There are well-known, common problems with fine particle separation process, i.e. particle adhesion, contamination of the product, low recovery of ore-minerals, etc. Most of these difficulties arise from surface interactions between fine particles during the recovery process.
The use of surface modifiers can significantly reduce costs at all stages –grinding, separation and cleaning of the final products. The surface modifier can also significantly improve separation quality of the products, because the majority of such processes is based on the properties of the particle surface.
Mining Salons is proud to represent a partner with an innovative and proven surface modifier solution.
How Does Our Partner’s Surface Modifier Work?
The Surface modifier effectively equalizes the surface charges of fine particles in suspension, thereby eliminating adhesion between particles, and allows the particles to move freely within suspension without negative interaction of any kind between them, thus allowing each mineral particle to react per its inherent physical properties.
This allows particle recovery/separation to occur unhindered by processes that would negatively impact on the recovery process.
Advantages of the Surface Modifier Usage:
1. Savings during the wet crushing and milling stage – particles became slippery and require less energy to achieve the required amount of liberation necessary for recovery.
2. Results in much more efficient separation of the material. Often processes that were thought impossible using conventional means become easily achievable.
3. The drying of product requires significantly less energy, as the treated product is not hydrophilic.
4. The natural settling of superfine particles in suspension takes place at velocities that are orders of magnitude higher. This has a huge positive impact on waste water/tailings treatment.
5. The surface modifier reduces particle adhesion up to two orders of magnitude. This allows the use of conventional pumps instead of screw or belt conveyors for the transportation of tailings (waste product).
Where Can It Be Used?
The Surface modifier has been proven to have beneficial effects on sulphides such as Gold, Platinum, and Copper – Oxide material such as Iron Ore, as well as on Organic substances such as Coal, Chalk, and the treatment of Waste water.
Iron ore quality is typically characterized by high silica content. When grinding iron ore it produces large amounts of soft fine quartz. These tiny particles cover the surface of the ore particles and degrade the quality of the product. Normally this siliceous coating on the iron ore particles cannot be removed. When applying the Surface modifier, the quartz easily separates from the ore particles and thus removed from the product.
The potential upside to this is leading to an increase in the quality of the product, whilst dramatically reducing the energy costs associated with the grinding and milling process of the ore due to the change of the physical characteristics of the particles. This can thus upgrade previously uneconomical deposits to an economical resource.
The application of the Surface modifier has already been successfully tested on some of the world-renowned iron ore deposits in South Africa.
In the production of alluvial gold all producers, without exception lose ultrafine particles of gold that are carried away with water or stay in the smallest state on the surface of gravel. These losses amount 30 to 50% depending on the material being processed.
By employing normal processes, it is impossible to recover ultrafine gold particles.
When the Surface modifier is employed, however, the gold particles readily detach from the surface of the gravel and rapid deposition of ultrafine gold particles occur as per the natural density of gold.
Platinum and Nickel Laterite
Preliminary tests on Platinum concentrate from the world’s largest Platinum Deposit, the Bushveld Complex of South Africa, has shown that the concentrate, once treated with the Surface modifier to rapidly and easily separate into 3 distinct fractions, recoverable solely by physical means. A distinct black, magnetic fraction, a dark-grey, high-density fraction, and a light-grey, less dense fraction was readily extracted from the concentrate of an operational mine.
Nickel Laterite ore behaves very similarly in this solution, with magnetite being easily extracted magnetically, and an iron oxide fraction and the pure Nickel ore being easily separated by gravimetric means. Both Nickel Laterite and the Platinum concentrate leave no suspended matter behind once treated with the surface modifier.
Waste Water treatment
Very often, the processed waste water contains large amounts of tiny suspended solids that may be remain in suspension for an extended period, or may not settle at all.
Waste water treatment is often a very difficult task. Many of the particles do not settle from suspension even when using flocculants. This is mostly due to the presence of surface charges and the formation of stable suspensions of such particles.
Surface modification and charge neutralization allows the precipitation of such a suspension very quickly and without the use of other chemicals.
Known cases of this deposition of materials using the Surface modifier has proven to be very successful and is yet to be replicated by any other physical or chemical means.
In summary, our partner’s Surface Modifier can neutralise forces between particles, so that particles will not form agglomerates again and the sliding force between particles declines in times in the dense mixture. This increases speed and quality of the flotation and similar separation processes.