Concentration of Ore

The concentration of Ore is a method of eliminating gangue particles or other impurities. Ore-dressing and benefaction are the alternative names for the term concentration of ore.

To obtain a pure metal from ore, the method of ore concentration is a very crucial step. For the extraction of metal, it is necessary to separate ore from the gangue particles. Ore found in the earth contains many impurities like sand, grit, rocks etc. which are collectedly known as “Gangue”.

The concentration of ore is the first step of metal extraction. There are different types of ore like native, oxidized, sulphurized and halide which can be concentrated by various physical and chemical methods.

Content: Concentration of Ore

  1. Definition of Concentration of Ore
  2. What is Ore?
  3. Types of Ore
  4. Physical Methods for the Concentration of Ore
  5. Chemical Methods for the Concentration of Ore

Definition of Concentration of Ore

The concentration of Ore can define as the chemical process of eliminating impurities like sand, rocks, silt, grit etc. from the ore for the extraction of metal. In simple words, the concentration of ore is the method of separating ore from the gangue, as the gangue or matrix are the valueless substances that are of no use.

The ore can be concentrated or separated by both physical and chemical means. The ore which is obtained after the completion of the ore concentration will refer as “Concentrate”.

What is Ore?

Ore can define as a solid substance like a rock which contains minerals or combination of minerals from which the metal can be extracted by a series of methods like the concentration of ore, isolation of metal and refining of metal.

Types of Ore

Ores can be classified majorly into four types:

Native ore: These are the type of ores which are non-reactive and contains metal in a free state.

Examples: Silver, gold etc.

Oxidized ore: These contain oxides or oxysalts, i.e. carbonates, phosphate and silicate of metal.

Examples:

Oxide ores: Fe2O3, Al2O3 etc.

Carbonate ores: CaCO3, ZnCO3 etc.

Sulphurized ore: These contain sulphides of metal like iron, lead etc.

Examples: FeS2 (Iron pyrites), PbS (Galena), HgS (Cinnabar) etc.

Halide ore: These contain halide of metals.

ExamplesChloride ore: AgCl (Horn silver), CaF2 (Fluorspar) etc.

Physical Methods for the Concentration of Ore

The physical methods include traditional hand picking, hydraulic washing, magnetic separation, froth floatation for the concentration of ore.

Hand picking

It was the traditional method of concentrating ore directly with hands. In this method, the gangue or adhering solid matrix is separated from the ore with the help of a hammer. The separation and identification of gangue are done based on the differences in colour or lump shape.

Hydraulic washing

It also refers as “Gravity separation” or “Levigation”. In the hydraulic wash, the ore is separated from the gangue by the principle of gravitational force. The ore is first crushed into fine particles or powdered form. Then the powdered ore is passed through the current of water.

hydraulic washing

As the ore is more substantial than the gangue particles, it will leave behind, and the gangue will float away through the stream of water. The process of hydraulic washing is accomplished by “Hydraulic classifier” or “Wilfley table”. This method is widely used for the concentration of oxide and carbonate ores.

Magnetic separation

The method of magnetic separation is the process of separating ore from the gangue particles based on the magnetic properties of either ore or matrix. In this method, the ore is finely crushed and then passed over the magnetic roller, where one is magnetic, and the other is nonmagnetic.

magnetic separation

The magnetic ore particles will attract and attach to the magnetic roller, and the non-magnetic gangue particles will separate and fall into the heap from the conveyer belt.

Example: Fe (CrO2)2 (Chromite) is a magnetic ore which can be separated from the non-magnetic silicious gangue.

Froth Floatation

In this process, finely ground ore or we can say pulp of ore is passed into the bioreactor along with little oil. The oil which is generally used in the froth floatation process is pine oil. The bioreactor contains water onto which the mixture of ore plus oil is added through an inlet.

froth floatation

Then the mixture of ore, oil and water is thoroughly mixed or agitated by the rotating paddle which comprises of impellers that allows proper mixing of all the components. There is constant airflow inside the medium, which leads to the formation of mineral froth that appears as a “Supernatant”.

Froth contains mineral particles which can be collected by transferring the mineral froth into the other bath where on the bottom, the ore free from gangue will settle down.

Chemical Methods for the Concentration of Ore

The chemical methods include calcination, roasting and leaching for the concentration of ore.

Calcination

It is the chemical method of separating carbonate or hydrated oxide ores.

  • When carbonate ore subjects to the heat it will produce carbon dioxide. For example:
    calcination of carbonate ore
  • When the hydrated oxide ore subjects to the heat, it releases water. For example:
    calcination of hydrated oxide ore

Roasting

It is a process that is applicable for sulphide ore which subjects to the heat and air. In roasting, the sulphide ore is heated at the temperature below the melting point. For example:
roasting of ore

Leaching

It is a chemical method in which the ore is treated with the suitable reagent to solubilize the ore.

leaching

The soluble ore or mineral can separate from the insoluble gangue. After the separation of ore, it can further recover by several chemical methods.

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