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Assessment of grinding additives for promoting chromite liberation

Camalan, Mahmut
Hoşten, Çetin
Liberation of the valuable minerals of an ore from its gangue is a prerequisite for the economic recovery of the valuable minerals to concentrates. Mineral liberation is achieved by reducing the size of ore particles in various crushing and grinding devices. The fineness to which the ore must be ground, so as to yield sufficient degrees of liberation, increases if the valuable minerals with small grain sizes are disseminated throughout the gangue. Intensive fine grinding, however, increases energy costs and can lead to the loss of very fine untreatable particles into the tailings. Therefore, research should be oriented toward developing methods to foster breakage through the mineral grain boundaries to accomplish liberation at relatively coarser grinds. The purpose of this study is to determine if the pretreatment of the samples of a chromite ore with aqueous solutions of some salt and surfactant additives could improve the liberation by promoting preferential fracturing at the grain boundaries between the chromite and silicate minerals in the ore. For this purpose, untreated and pretreated samples of - 9.53 + 6.35 mm size fraction of the ore were broken in a drop-weight tester, and the liberation spectra and the mass distribution of the resultant progenies were measured and compared. Optical and scanning electron microscope images and spectroscopic tools were used to find evidence for grain-boundary fracturing in the breakage progeny fragments. Results support the promoting effect of hydrolysis on grain-boundary fracturing. Aqueous salt and surfactant species enhance grain-boundary fracturing by forming surface complexes and dislocating aluminum atoms at the grain boundaries. Grain-boundary fracturing yields exposed chromite surfaces and enriched chromite content in the coarse progeny particles. The grain-boundary weakening is associated with slight hardness variation along the boundary.