Minerals2016, 6(3), 89; doi:10.3390/min6030089 - published 29 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Hydrometallurgical processing of chalcopyrite is hindered predominantly due to the passivation layers formed on the chalcopyrite surface. However, the effects of impurity cations released from the gangue are not yet well understood. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations were carried out to investigate monovalent cations of Na+ and K+ on chalcopyrite (001)-S surface using Materials Studio. The results show that the 3d orbital of Fe and 3p orbital of S predominantly contribute to their activities during chalcopyrite oxidation and dissolution processes. In addition, SO42− is more likely to be adsorbed on one Fe site in the presence of Na+, while it is preferentially adsorbed on two Fe sites in the presence of K+. However, the adsorption of both Na2SO4 and K2SO4 on the chalcopyrite (001)-S surface contributes to the breakage of S–S bonds, indicating that the impurity cations of Na+ and K+ are beneficial to chalcopyrite leaching in a sulfuric environment. The adsorption energy and partial density of states (PDOS) analyses further indicate that the adsorption of Na2SO4 on chalcopyrite (001)-S surface is favored in both -BB (bidentate binuclear ) and -BM (bidentate mononuclear) modes, compared to the adsorption of K2SO4.
Minerals2016, 6(3), 88; doi:10.3390/min6030088 - published 29 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Marine phosphorites are known to concentrate rare earth elements and yttrium (REY) during early diagenetic formation. Much of the REY data available are decades old and incomplete, and there has not been a systematic study of REY distributions in marine phosphorite deposits that formed over a range of oceanic environments. Consequently, we initiated this study to determine if marine phosphorite deposits found in the global ocean host REY concentrations of high enough grade to be of economic interest. This paper addresses continental-margin (CM) and open-ocean seamount phosphorites. All 75 samples analyzed are composed predominantly of carbonate fluorapatite and minor detrital and authigenic minerals. CM phosphorites have low total REY contents (mean 161 ppm) and high heavy REY (HREY) complements (mean 49%), while seamount phosphorites have 4–6 times higher individual REY contents (except for Ce, which is subequal; mean ΣREY 727 ppm), and very high HREY complements (mean 60%). The predominant causes of higher concentrations and larger HREY complements in seamount phosphorites compared to CM phosphorites are age, changes in seawater REY concentrations over time, water depth of formation, changes in pH and complexing ligands, and differences in organic carbon content in the depositional environments. Potential ore deposits with high HREY complements, like the marine phosphorites analyzed here, could help supply the HREY needed for high-tech and green-tech applications without creating an oversupply of the LREY.
Minerals2016, 6(3), 86; doi:10.3390/min6030086 - published 23 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Simple magnetic separation for a certain magnetite mine with ultrafine disseminated lean ores has resulted in low performance, as the fine sizes and aggregation of ground mineral particles have caused inefficient recovery of the ultrafine minerals. In this study, we attempt to increase the apparent sizes of target mineral particles, and improve the separation indices, by using a multi-stage grinding-dispersion-selective flocculation-weak magnetic separation process. The results showed that under the conditions of 500 g/t sodium hexametaphospate (SHMP) as dispersant, 750 g/t carboxymethyl starch (CMS) as flocculant, agitating at 400 rpm for 10 min, with slurry pH 11, and final grinding fineness of 93.5% less than 0.03 mm, the obtained concentrate contained 62.82% iron, with recovery of 79.12% after multi-stage magnetic separation. Compared to simple magnetic separation, the concentrate’s iron grade increased by 1.26%, and a recovery rate by 5.08%. Fundamental analysis indicated that, in a dispersed state of dispersion, magnetite particles had weaker negative surface charges than quartz, allowing the adsorption of negative CMS ions via hydrogen bonding. Consequently, the aggregate size of the initial concentrate increased from 24.30 to 38.37 μm, accomplishing the goal of selective flocculation, and increasing the indices of separation.
Minerals2016, 6(3), 87; doi:10.3390/min6030087 - published 23 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The delamination of montmorillonite in water leads to sliming in ore slurry, which is detrimental to mineral flotation and solid/water separation. In this work, the delamination of Na-montmorillonite (Na-MMT) has been restrained by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) or octadecyl trimethyl ammonium chloride (1831) through the adsorption on the edge of the mineral. The experimental results have shown that the pretreatment by adding SDS and 1831 could greatly reduce the Stokes size percentage of −1.1 µm particles in the aqueous Na-MMT suspension. From the X-ray diffractometer (XRD) results, the interlayer spacing of the MMT pre-treated by SDS and 1831 is smaller than that of original MMT particles. Adsorption position of SDS and 1831 on MMT surfaces was analyzed by the measurements of adsorption capacity of SDS and 1831, inductively-coupled plasma spectra, and zeta potential before and after the plane surface of MMT was covered with tetraethylenepentaminecopper ([Cu(tetren)]2+). The results indicated that SDS and 1831 are adsorbed on the edge and the whole surface of Na-MMT, respectively. Delamination of MMT could be well restrained by the adsorption of SDS and 1831 on the edges of MMT.
Minerals2016, 6(3), 85; doi:10.3390/min6030085 - published 23 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: U–Pb dating of the common iron-oxide hematite (α-Fe2O3), using laser-ablation inductively-coupled-plasma mass-spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), provides unparalleled insight into the timing and processes of mineral deposit formation. Until now, the full potential of this method has been negatively impacted by the lack of suitable matrix-matched standards. To achieve matrix-matching, we report an approach in which a U–Pb solution and ablated material from 99.99% synthetic hematite are simultaneously mixed in a nebulizer chamber and introduced to the ICP-MS. The standard solution contains fixed U- and Pb-isotope ratios, calibrated independently, and aspiration of the isotopically homogeneous solution negates the need for a matrix-matched, isotopically homogenous natural iron-oxide standard. An additional advantage of using the solution is that the individual U–Pb concentrations and isotope ratios can be adjusted to approximate that in the unknown, making the method efficient for dating hematite containing low (~10 ppm) to high (>1 wt %) U concentrations. The above-mentioned advantage to this solution method results in reliable datasets, with arguably-better accuracy in measuring U–Pb ratios than using GJ-1 Zircon as the primary standard, which cannot be employed for such low U concentrations. Statistical overlaps between 207Pb/206Pb weighted average ages (using GJ-1 Zircon) and U–Pb upper intercept ages (using the U–Pb mixed solution method) of two samples from iron-oxide copper-gold (IOCG) deposits in South Australia demonstrate that, although fractionation associated with a non-matrix matched standard does occur when using GJ-1 Zircon as the primary standard, it does not impact the 207Pb/206Pb or upper intercept age. Thus, GJ-1 Zircon can be considered reliable for dating hematite using LA-ICP-MS. Downhole fractionation of 206Pb/238U is observed to occur in spot analyses of hematite. The use of rasters in future studies will hopefully minimize this problem, allowing for matrix-matched data. Using the mixed-solution method in this study, we have validated a published hematite Pb–Pb age for Olympic Dam, and provide a new age (1604 ± 11 Ma) for a second deposit in the same province. These ages are further evidence that the IOCG mineralizing event is tied to large igneous province (LIP) magmatism in the region at ~1.6 Ga.
Minerals2016, 6(3), 84; doi:10.3390/min6030084 - published 15 August 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Mine tailings are generally disposed of by artisanal and small scale gold miners in poorly constructed containment areas and this leads to environmental risk. Gold phytomining could be a possible option for tailings management at artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) locations where plants accumulate residual gold in their above ground biomass. The value of metal recovered from plants could offset some of the costs of environmental management. Getting gold into plants has been repeatedly demonstrated by many research groups; however, a simple working technology to get gold out of plants is less well described. A field experiment to assess the relevance of the technology to artisanal miners was conducted in Central Lombok, Indonesia between April and June 2015. Tobacco was planted in cyanidation tailings (1 mg/kg gold) and grown for 2.5 months before the entire plot area was irrigated with NaCN to induce metal uptake. Biomass was then harvested (100 kg), air dried, and ashed by miners in equipment currently used to ash activated carbon at the end of a cyanide leach circuit. Borax and silver as a collector metal were added to the tobacco ash and smelted at high temperature to extract metals from the ash. The mass of the final bullion (39 g) was greater than the mass of silver used as a collector (31 g), indicating recovery of metals from the biomass through the smelt process. The gold yield of this trial was low (1.2 mg/kg dry weight biomass concentration), indicating that considerable work must still be done to optimise valuable metal recovery by plants at the field scale. However, the described method to process the biomass was technically feasible, and represents a valid technique that artisanal and small-scale gold miners are willing to adopt if the economic case is good.