Coal Flotation

Aplan, Frank F. ; Rinelli, G.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 30
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1976
INTRODUCTION Coal is a solid, combustible mineral substance resulting from the degradation and alteration of vegetable matter largely in the absence of air. In this natural process of coalification, some non-combustible mineral matter is always associated with the combustible material. Coal preparation or cleaning is the process of removing this inert mineral matter from the coal. Preparation is highly successful in removing the large fragments of inert material, but is not very effective in removing the fine inorganic mineral matter intimately associated with the coal. Of the 600 million tons of coal produced in the United States every year, approximately one-half is produced by coal cleaning methods (1). The bulk of this tonnage is cleaned by coarse or intermediate gravity preparation methods (5 inches to 28 mesh, Tyler). Fine cleaning, say, -28 mesh, is done by shaking tables, washing cyclones, and flotation, or, until recently, the fines were either incorporated into the clean coal or simply discarded--not infrequently, the latter. In 1972, only 13 million tons of raw coal were cleaned by flotation in the United States, and from this 8.4 million tons of clean coal were produced (1). The percentage of clean coal produced by flotation in Europe (England, West Germany, Poland, U.S.S.R., etc.) is substantially higher. However, coal flotation has grown rapidly in the United States from only a few plants in 1950 to 31 in 1960 (2) and 66 in 1970 (1). Virtually all new preparation plants incorporate flotation into their basic flowsheet. The essential difference between ore and coal flotation is that for ores the entire tonnage is ground to flotation size, whereas for coal
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