Beneficiation of Lean Iron Ores Solely By Selective Flocculation and Desliming

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 798, 1978

H. O. Lien, Manager, Raw Materials Research, The Algoma Steel Corporation, Limited, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, J. G. Morrow, Consultant, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (deceased)

Among the known iron deposits in Canada, many are of low grade and require beneficiation to produce an acceptable blastfurnace feed. Some of the deposits have never been considered for commercial exploitation due to the lack of a suitable concentrating process. A number of deposits of this type are located in Northern Ontario. The problem in upgrading these deposits is three fold. Firstly, the iron occurs as a mixture of magnetite and hematite. Secondly, the grain size of the material can be fine to very fine. Thirdly, the complex mixture of gangue minerals, which consists invariably of silica, flaky silicates and carbonates, slimes excessively on fine grinding.Algoma's efforts to concentrate these iron-bearing materials culminated in the development of a "Selective Flocculation and Desliming Process" employing slimes removal as the sole beneficiation technique. The process was applied successfully in the laboratory using two stages of grinding and a total of seven deslimings. Prior to the removal of slimes, the iron-bearing fines were selectively flocculated from a thoroughly dispersed pulp using a modified starch as flocculant. Sodium silicate was employed as dispersant.An attempt was made to optimize some of the process variables using material from one specific iron formation near the town of Geraldton in Northern Ontario. The preparation of the starch proved most critical. This matter, and the method used to evaluate the degree of breakdown of the starch molecule, are therefore discussed in some detail.
Keywords: Mineral processing, Beneficiation, Iron ores, Flocculation, Desliming, Grinding, Autogenous grinding, Pebble milling, Starch, Geraldton deposit, Reagents.