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Minerals 2017, 7(10), 194;

A Process Mineralogy Approach to Gravity Concentration of Tantalum Bearing Minerals

Camborne School of Mines, College of Engineering, Mathematics & Physical Sciences (CEMPS), University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Exeter, Cornwall TR10 9FE, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 August 2017 / Revised: 21 September 2017 / Accepted: 12 October 2017 / Published: 13 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Process Mineralogy of Critical Metals)
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The historic Penouta mine in northwest Spain is the focus of efforts to extract tantalum from tin mining waste. This paper describes the characterisation of the tantalum mineralogy of waste material from the deposit. Characterisation was realised using quantitative mineralogy and geochemistry. This paper further identifies other phases of interest and investigates the potential for extraction using gravity separation techniques. The gravity concentrate obtained through these tests was analysed using quantitative mineralogy and electron probe microanalysis. Following characterisation of the sample material to identify the key Ta-bearing mineral phases and assess liberation, a series of gravity separation trials were conducted using Heavy Liquid Separation (HLS), Mozley table, Knelson concentrator separation and shaking table. The laboratory shaking table used to conduct a rougher test and a rougher/cleaner test to simulate a spiral-table circuit using the Penouta material. Mass balance calculations were carried out to calculate the contained metal content of the feed material and concentrate products in order to assess recovery rates for Ta, Sn and Nb across a range of grains sizes. Ta was found to be present predominantly in the solid-solution columbite-group mineral, along with minor Ta present as microlite and as impurities within cassiterite. It was found that over 70% of the Ta is contained within the −125 μm fraction, with the Ta-bearing minerals tantalite and microlite being closely associated with quartz. Mozley table separation resulted in recoveries of 89% Ta and 85% Nb for the −125 μm fraction. The Knelson Concentrator trial was carried out on the −625 μm size fraction, thereby eliminating low grade material found in the coarsest fractions. Size analysis of the recovery rate for each product, shows that the Knelson concentrator is most efficient for recovery of −125 μm particles. View Full-Text
Keywords: process mineralogy; tantalum bearing minerals; gravity concentration; Penouta mine process mineralogy; tantalum bearing minerals; gravity concentration; Penouta mine

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Ghorbani, Y.; Fitzpatrick, R.; Kinchington, M.; Rollinson, G.; Hegarty, P. A Process Mineralogy Approach to Gravity Concentration of Tantalum Bearing Minerals. Minerals 2017, 7, 194.

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