Water chemistry effects on the zeta potential of concentrated hematite ore

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering


The effectiveness of selective flocculation and dispersion processes for the concentration of hematite ore are strongly dependent on the ionic content of the process water. It has been noticed that magnesium ions are more detrimental to iron recoveries during gravity separation and flotation processes than calcium. This phenomenon was studied by measuring the zeta potential of hematite ore at various concentrations of sodium, magnesium, calcium, strontium and barium atapH of 11. Results show that zeta potential inverts from negative to positive at concentrations as low as 0.16 mM of magnesium ions in the solution. It takes a significantly higher concentration (1.25 mM) of calcium ions to achieve the same effect. This difference is attributed to the ability of magnesium ions to adsorb to all surface hydroxyl groups, whereas calcium, due to its larger size, can only adsorb to every third hydroxyl group. This hypothesis was confirmed by results similar to those seen with calcium when this test was repeated with strontium and barium ions. The tendency for calcium ions to adsorb to every third surface hydroxyl group causes higher concentrations of calcium to be less detrimental to hematite concentration processes than magnesium.

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Minerals and Metallurgical Processing