Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering


Surendra K Kawatra


Analyzing “nuggety” gold samples commonly produces erratic fire assay results, due to random inclusion or exclusion of coarse gold in analytical samples. Preconcentrating gold samples might allow the nuggets to be concentrated and fire assayed separately. In this investigation synthetic gold samples were made using similar density tungsten powder and silica, and were preconcentrated using two approaches: an air jig and an air classifier. Current analytical gold sampling method is time and labor intensive and our aim is to design a set-up for rapid testing. It was observed that the preliminary air classifier design showed more promise than the air jig in terms of control over mineral recovery and preconcentrating bulk ore sub-samples. Hence the air classifier was modified with the goal of producing 10-30 grams samples aiming to capture all of the high density metallic particles, tungsten in this case. Effects of air velocity and feed rate on the recovery of tungsten from synthetic tungsten-silica mixtures were studied. The air classifier achieved optimal high density metal recovery of 97.7% at an air velocity of 0.72 m/s and feed rate of 160 g/min. Effects of density on classification were investigated by using iron as the dense metal instead of tungsten and the recovery was seen to drop from 96.13% to 20.82%. Preliminary investigations suggest that preconcentration of gold samples is feasible using the laboratory designed air classifier.