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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Komar S Kawatra


Dolomite [CaMg(CO3)2] is an intolerable impurity in phosphate ores due to its MgO content. Traditionally, the Florida phosphate industry has avoided mining high-MgO phosphate reserves due to the lack of an economically viable process for removal of dolomite. However, as the high grade phosphate reserves become depleted, more emphasis is being put on the development of a cost effective method for separating dolomite from high-MgO phosphate ores. In general, the phosphate industry demands a phosphate concentrate containing less than 1%MgO.

Dolomite impurities have mineralogical properties that are very similar to the desired phosphate minerals (francolite), making the separation of the two minerals very difficult. Magnesium is primarily found as distinct dolomite-rich pebbles, very fine dolomite inclusions in predominately francolite pebbles, and magnesium substituted into the francolite structure. Jigging is a gravity separation process that attempts to take advantage of the density difference between the dolomite and francolite pebbles. A unique laboratory scale jig was designed and built at Michigan Tech for this study. Through a series of tests it was found that a pulsation rate of 200 pulse/minute, a stroke length of 1 inch, a water addition rate of 0.5gpm, and alumina ragging balls were optimum for this study.

To investigate the feasibility of jigging for the removal of dolomite from phosphate ore, two high-MgO phosphate ores were tested using optimized jigging parameters: (1) Plant #1 was sized to 4.00x0.85mm and contained 1.55%MgO; (2) Plant #2 was sized to 3.40mmx0.85mm and contained 3.07% MgO. A sample from each plant was visually separated by hand into dolomite and francolite rich fractions, which were then analyzed to determine the minimum achievable MgO levels. For Plant #1 phosphate ore, a concentrate containing 0.89%MgO was achieved at a recovery of 32.0%BPL. For Plant #2, a phosphate concentrate containing 1.38%MgO was achieved at a recovery of 74.7%BPL. Minimum achievable MgO levels were determined to be 0.53%MgO for Plant #1 and 1.15%MgO for Plant #2.