Elutriation Technology in Heavy Mineral Separations


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Virginia Tech


Hindered-bed separators have been used in several different mineral processing fields for many years. Recent improvements in designs have led to the development of the CrossFlow separator. This new design employs a tangential feed system that has shown promise in several applications. This paper investigates the use of this relatively new technology to upgrade heavy mineral concentrates using Florida type ores. The intended use of this separatory device in this particular application is the removal of gangue quartz from other valuable heavy minerals such as ilmenite, leucoxene, rutile, zircon, and staurolite. The results of two different pilot-scale in-plant testing investigations are discussed. In general, quartz rejections in excess of 80% were achieved while maintaining TiO2 and heavy mineral recoveries above 98% and 99%, respectively.

In addition to field test work, two separate unit models have been developed. The first model is an empirical investigation into understanding unit operation and functionality. The second model is a statistical prediction of unit operation based on specific field test work. These models can be used to effectively scale-up a CrossFlow unit for full-scale installation at any Florida heavy mineral sands operation. Emphasis is placed on unit capacity and other operational parameters such as elutriation flowrate and bed level.



Elutriation, TiO2, Heavy Mineral, CrossFlow