Beneficiation of alusil, an alunite leaching residue, by hot flotation

Karantzavelos, G. E.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 2
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
Introduction Pure alunite (KAl3 (SO4 )3 (OH)6 ) contains 37% A1203. In the alunite ore found on Milos Island, Greece, opal is the principal gangue while some aluminum, iron, and titanium oxides are also present. Processing of alunite ore leads to the recovery of potassium sulfate, alusil (alumina-silica mixture), and sulfur dioxide. An interesting process has been developed in Greece (Svoronos, 1977) consisting mainly of roasting the alunite ore mixed with KCl to disrupt the mineral lattice in preparation for separating its components. The thermal decomposition of alunite at approximately 600°C occurs by the reaction: KAl3 (SO4)3 (OH)6 + nSiO2 + 6KC1 - 4 K2SO4 + 3 A1203 . nSiO2 + 6 HCl + 3H20 According to the process pure alunite mixed with 543 kg KCl, 840 kg K2SO4, 370 kg alusil, 264 kg HCl, and 65 kg H2O are produced. The roasted calcine is leached in hot water. The potassium sulfate leach slurry is then thickened and washed to obtain a solid residue (alusil) plus a solution rich in potassium sulfate. Assuming the alunite ore feed consists of 50% to 60% alunite, the solid residue might consist of approximately 22% to 27% A1203, silica, iron, and titanium oxides. This leach residue could be digested in a hot sodium hydroxide solution to dissolve alumina. An amount of the alumina (approximately 10%) would not dissolve. In addition, part of the silica would dissolve requiring removal from the solution in a subsequent desilication operation. The same leach residue could be attacked by mineral acids such as a diluted hydrochloric acid to extract aluminum chloride (Sawyer et al., 1983). Alumina and aluminum are presently produced from bauxite of which Greece has important reserves. If this aluminous material (alusil) could be beneficiated by any physical process, then it would be considered as a raw material for the production of fire-clay refractories instead of an alternate source of alumina. Experimental procedure Extensive laboratory work (mineralogical and chemical analyses) indicates that alusil is a mixture of liberated (mostly) alumina and silica particles, not a natural silicate mineral. Table 1 shows the chemical assays of two alusil samples that were obtained from a roasted alunite ore leaching pilot plant. The samples used for the experiments were a very fine alusil powder (K80 = 400 mesh, 38 µm). These were pulped in tap water. Desliming of the pulp before each flotation test was ineffective. Flotation tests were performed in a 2000 ml Denver cell. A standard 500-g sample was first conditioned at a pulp density 50% solids for 5 min with hydrofluoric (HF) acid solution (40%). The temperature of the conditioned pulp was measured and kept nearly constant at 50°C. The pH of the conditioned pulp was also regulated to 2.5-3 with HF solution. Then ARMAC C solution (2%) as well as two drops of fuel oil and one drop of AEROFROTH 65 were added and the pulp was reconditioned for 2 min. After conditioning, the viscous pulp was transfered to the flotation cell. It was then diluted with warm water to about 15% solids and floated to separate silica from alumina particles. A rougher froth product that was cleaned and recleaned was obtained from the flotation tests.
Full Article Download:
(144 kb)