The Modified Metallurgical Upgrading of Ilmenite to Produce High Grade Synthetic Rutile

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 11
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1973
Naturally occurring rutile contains approximately 96 per cent titanium dioxide (Ti02), whereas the product from the ilmenite reduction - aeration upgrading process, "sub- rutile", contains only about 92 per cent Ti02. Therefore, there is an-incentive to lift the quality of sub-rutile by removing transition metal impurities, in order to supply a more valuable and marketable product, particularly for the chloride-route pigment producers. Previous studies have shown that the sub- rutile residual iron content (of approximately 4 per cent) and residual manganese content (of approximately 1.5 per cent) are chemically bound within the titanium-oxygen mineral lattice, and are most difficult to remove by simple leaching methods. In attempts to improve their eventual removal, a simple process modification has been successfully investigated in laboratory scale trials. Transition metal sulphides have been formed in the reduced ilmenite by using a "sulphur-doping" technique during reduction (metallization) conducted at controlled temperatures. These compounds give rise to greatly enhanced dissolution of the unwanted transition metal constituents during the sub- sequent aeration and acid washing steps. Thus, the manganese content of the final sulphur- doped, reduced-aerated, acid washed product can be reduced by about 90 per cent to 0.2 per cent, and the iron content by about 70 per cent to less than 1.5 per cent, in comparison with those levels remaining after unmodified pro- cessing. Additions of sulphur as low as 2 per cent of the weight of the ilmenite have proven satisfactory. Preliminary studies reveal that the modified process is economically feasible. These results suggest that the sulphur content of the Collie coal char used in an unmodified reduction step must exert some influence on the eventual removal of iron and manganese during aeration and acid washing.
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