Effect of rock breakage characteristics and fines/clay content on the autogenous grinding of iron ore

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering


An analysis of an iron-ore processing plant showed that its performance was affected by seasonal temperature variations, resulting in reduced grinding efficiency during the winter months. Laboratory and pilot plant studies were conducted to determine the cause of the observed loss of efficiency at lower temperatures. Two types of experiments were performed: drop tests and wet grinding tests. Drop testing was performed to determine the effect of brittleness and frozen pore water on the breakage characteristics of the ore. The wet grinding tests were divided into laboratory tumble tests and pilot-plant tests. The combined results of drop testing and wet grinding were used to make predictions on the performance of plant-scale autogenous grinding. From the drop tests, it was determined that dry iron ore, basalt and sandstone did not change in brittleness over the temperature range studied (-25° to 25 °C). However, when the rocks were water-saturated, the highly porous sandstone became considerably more fracture-resistant upon freezing, due to "grouting" of the pores and preexisting cracks by ice. This effect was not seen for either the iron ore or the basalt, because they were considerably less porous than the sandstone. Tumble tests on both laboratory and pilot scales showed that both the addition of fines to the test charge and a reduction in temperature caused a decrease in the amount of new fines produced. This reduced fines production was the result of increased slurry viscosity when either the fines content increased or the temperature decreased.

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Minerals and Metallurgical Processing