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|During 1983, 42.2% of the 686.0 (624.3 Mt) million tons of coal reported, 289.6 (263.5 Mt) million tons were mechanically cleaned, of which 107 (97.4 Mt) million tons were cleaned by dense media (magnetite and sand) processes.' The percentage of bituminous coal and lignite cleaned mechanically by dense medium processes increased from 7 to 38% between 1938 and 1983. The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that 150 million tons (137 Mt) of coal were cleaned by heavy-media processes in 1986, and that this number may increase to 265 million tons (241 Mt) by 1990.2 Dense medium separations include those coal preparation processes that clean raw coal by immersing it in a fluid having a density intermediate between clean coal and reject. As there is a general correlation between ash content and specific gravity, it is possible to achieve the required degree of removal of ash-forming impurities from a raw coal by regulating the specific gravity of the separating fluid. Dense medium processes generally offer the following advantages over other coal cleaning processes: • Ability to make sharp separations at any specific gravity within the range normally required even in the presence of high percentages of raw coal whose specific gravity is near the specific gravity of separation. • Ability to maintain a separating gravity that can be controlled within + 0.005 sp gr units. • Ability to handle a wide range of coal sizes. • Ability to change specific gravity of separation to meet varying market requirements. • Ability to handle fluctuations in feed, in terms of both quantity and quality. Unfortunately, dense medium processes can have the following disadvantages: • Relatively high capital costs caused primarily by the need for equipment to collect and recycle the medium. Relatively high operating costs caused primarily by operation of medium recycle equipment and loss of medium.|