Process Mineralogy of Forrestania Nickel Sulphides, Forrestania, WA

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1996
Nickel ores from three different mines, Digger Rocks, Cosmic Boy and Flying Fox, are treated at the Forrestania concentration plant. The ore types vary from oxidised supergene ores to primary pyrrhotite+pentlandite ores. Mineralogical investigations on the ore and process samples have been carried out in different stages of process development. One of the studies was done with the samples collected from the flotation circuit in 19 June 1994 when the Cosmic Boy ore was processed. The process products were screened, and the size fractions were analysed for the main elements by appropriate analytical methods. Mineralogy of the products was studied microscopically and composition of the sulphides was analysed with an electron microprobe. Liberation of the main sulphides in the flotation feed was determined with the point-counting method, and weight percentages of the minerals were calculated using chemical and mineralogical data. The typical sulphide assemblage of the Cosmic Boy ore is violarite, pentlandite, pyrite, pyrrhotite and chalcopyrite. Violarite dominates over pentlandite (ratio being 70 per cent to 30 per cent), and pyrrhotite is strongly replaced with pyrite and magnetite. One of the most common mineralogical features of this ore type is secondary magnetite, which occurs as narrow rims in porous violarite or in association with secondary pyrite. Serpentine, talc and chlorite are the main gangue minerals. In the milled feed (76 per cent -74 ¦m) locked particles between nickel and iron sulphides are common. About 41 per cent of total pentlandite occurs as pure liberated particles, and 33 per cent as locked grains with violarite. Liberation degree of violarite is 55 per cent, and the most common type of locked particles is violarite+magnetite, carrying about 20 per cent of total violarite. To achieve a recovery of 80 per cent for pentlandite, all the particles containing at least 50 vol-% pentlandite should be floated into the nickel concentrate. Correspondingly recovery of 80 per cent can be reached for violarite if all the particles containing at least 65 vol-% violarite are floated.
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