Selective flocculation for the recovery of iron in Kudremukh tailings (Discussion)

Hancock, B. A.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 1
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
It is not at all surprising that causticized potato and potato derived amylopectin starch solutions performed much better than their parent starches. Some preparation is required to rupture the starch granules to effect the polymeric adsorption and interparticle bridging necessary for selective flocculation. In laboratory work comparing the deslime performance of causticized and autoclave cooked laboratory corn starch solution preparations, it was found that higher deslime weight rejections, with attendant proportionally greater iron unit losses, occurred with the causticized starch. These results may be specific to the ore involved but they do suggest that cooking and causticizing cause different starch granule rup- ture and/or starch breakdown, which have an effect on desliming response. I calculated from the data in the article that the slimes product grades were high - 24.3% and 20.3% Fe when 53.7% and 54.5% Fe concentrate products were obtained, respectively, in Table 4, and 21% Fe with a 62.6% Fe concentrate in Table 5 - using the natural tailings sample, which had a head of 34.3% Fe. It may be advisable for the authors to consider different starch preparations in future investigations. The combination of upgrading and selectivity results presented in Table 4 are not as good as the authors suggest. The authors' claim that a system has been developed to produce saleable concentrates from the Kudremukh tailings is quite disconcerting. There are many hurdles yet to be crossed before commercial application of selective flocculation becomes possible because differ- ences between the very small-scale laboratory tests conducted and commercial application are rather large. Among the many differences are varying circuit feed grades that will occur from use of tailings, the apparent face that much lower tailings grades will be encountered in practice (it is much easier to achieve a high concentrate grade with reasonable recoveries using 34.3% Fe tailings as in the study rather than 25.3% Fe tailings grades that the plant apparently averages), the hydraulic nature of the thickeners used in operations compared to the static system used in laboratory tests, the different size distributions that will be obtained from a plant closed grinding- classification circuit, and differences in water used in a plant operation and the laboratory. The authors wrote that it was necessary to overgrind to be sure that the coarse gangue would not settle with the iron oxide floccules. This situation is likely to be exaggerated in commercial operations where it is assumed cyclones would be used for classification. Because cyclone classification is greatly influenced by particle densities, there will probably be an even greater difference in size between the iron and gangue particles in the plant, which would make the gangue slightly coarser still in relation to the iron. This would make the selective flocculation-desliming separations using the procedure employed by the authors even more difficult and, using the dispersant system the authors employed, greater overgrinding would be required. To grind finer to minimize the coarse gangue in the flocculated iron oxides is quite inefficient and appears not to broach the problem. The actual problem appears to be insufficient dispersion of the ground pulp. In this situation, addition of a dispersant would likely be required to attain a sufficiently high pulp dispersion level to efficiently effect a selective flocculation-desliming separation. Although the very coarse particles would still have a tendency to settle with the floccules, it probably would be found unnecessary to overgrind as much as indicated. Use of an optimum combination of dispersant and pH modifying reagents may also significantly improve the selectivity of desliming. Additionally, although it is possible that sufficient dispersion may be obtained by pH control alone in some situations, it is quite probable that added dispersity was obtained in the reported work from using distilled water. It is research experience that distilled water enhances dispersion. In commercial operations it may not be expected that sufficient dispersion will be obtained by pH control alone, unless the water used in the process is by nature quite dispersive. Overall, a change in the Kudremukh tailings dispersant scheme appears necessary where a dispersant is used in conjunction with a pH modifying reagent. With this change, different dispersion-flocculation responses will result that would have to be further evaluated. Therefore, it is still an open question whether an efficient and effective selective floccula- tion separation using Kudremukh tailings may be obtained that will produce saleable concentrates.
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