Gravity Concentration - Introduction

Aplan, Frank F.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
Introduction Gravity concentration may be defined as that process where particles of mixed sizes, shapes, and specific gravities are separated from each other by the force of gravity or by centrifugal force. The nature of the process is such that size and shape classification are an inherent part of the process in addition to separation on the basis of specific gravity from whence the process got its name. Mother nature has long practiced this form of mineral concentration by concentrating such heavy and relatively indestructible minerals as gold, platinum, cassiterite, ilmenite, zircon, and diamonds in placer or beach sand deposits. Once freed of their host granitic or other rock through natural weathering processes, these minerals are then subjected to stream or wave action producing a natural classification and concentration of the heavy minerals. Gravity concentration dates back to antiquity and was certainly the first ore concentration process used when selective mining and hand sorting would no longer suffice to produce the quality of concentrate desired. Forerunners of the present day sluice box and panning techniques were undoubtedly used by the ancient Egyptians on the upper Nile to separate gold from stream gravel. By the second century BC the extraction of gold from veins in quartz was well detailed by Agatharchides, but there is evidence that gold was brought into Egypt from the south as early as the XI1 Dynasty (~1900 BC).1 Most assuredly gravity concentration devices were used during the later Bronze Age to separate the heavier tin and copper minerals from their lighter gangue minerals. The Athenians used an elementary form of Rowing film concentration at their lead-silver mines at Laurium,2 and elementary jigging using wicker baskets was also probably developed at this time. Agricola's famous treatise De Re Metallica3 demonstrates that by the 16th century gravity concentration technology was well advanced and a large number of devices had been developed. Chinese
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