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Extraction 2018 pp 2869-2879 | Cite as

Molybdenite Polytypism and Its Implications for Processing and Recovery: A Geometallurgical-Based Case Study from the Bingham Canyon Mine, Utah

Conference paper
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Part of the The Minerals, Metals & Materials Series book series (MMMS)

Abstract

Contrary to other sulfide minerals, where recovery is principally liberation controlled, the recovery of molybdenite is more complex. It is this complexity that initiated a geometallurgical investigation of molybdenites from Bingham Canyon. The aim of this investigation was to determine the effect mineralogy and/or mineralogical attributes have on recovery. All samples were analyzed using normal mineralogical techniques. The results reveal the presence of two distinctly different types of molybdenite. These have been identified as the two polytypes of molybdenite: i.e. hexagonal (2H); and rhombohedral (3R). The 2H-polytype occurs as textbook-shaped particles in quartz-molybdenite veins that are located in the current pit bottom. The 3R-polytype occurs as disseminated, “ball”-shaped particles with a dull or frosted appearance and are concentrated along the margins of the current pit. Concerning their metallurgical behavior, each type exhibits unique metallurgical properties that are consistent with those reported in the published literature. The 2H-polytype is easily ground and kinetically “faster” floating with surface attributes that are amenable to higher rates of recovery. This results in the production of a high quality concentrate under normal operating conditions. The 3R-polytype, by comparison, is difficult to grind and kinetically “slower” floating with surface attributes that are less amenable to recovery. Therefore, in deposits with higher concentrations of the 3R-polytype, modifications to the normal operating parameters may be necessary to improve recovery. This investigation highlights the necessity for understanding the mineralogical characteristics of any economic mineral(s), as these will have a direct impact on recovery.

Keywords

Molybdenite Porphyry ores Geometallurgy Ore handling Mineral processing Ore mineralogy 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author would like to acknowledge the Management of Rio Tinto Kennecott for granting time and resource to compile and write the work in this report. Many thanks also to the many individuals throughout RTKC for the useful discussions and assistance with various matters. In particular I would like to thank Amy Lamb, Michael MacDonald, Sarah Schwarz, Tracy Smith, Ron Sorensen and Steve Whites for their valuable feedback. I would also like to thank Cameron MacArthur for preparing all of the polished blocks and Nicolas Brady for his assistance with the running and processing some of the samples on the XRD.

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Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rio Tinto Kennecott Utah CopperSouth JordanUSA

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