Detailed characterization and recovery of apatite from a sedimentary phosphate ore slime of a gravity plant of Yichang, China, were investigated. The phosphate ore slime consisted mainly of apatite, quartz, dolomite, and clay. To start with, the ore slime was characterized in sufficient detail to reveal that it is extremely fine in distribution with a d50
of 65 μm. Other different characterizations, such as apatite grain size distribution, apatite liberation, particle density distribution, and theoretical grade recovery, were also analyzed by mineral liberation analyser (MLA). Based on the results, a new gravity-flotation process, which was comprised of spiral gravity and reverse flotation, was proposed to process the slime. In the new process, the apatite was firstly recovered by two-stage spiral gravity, avoiding direct flotation. The gravity concentrate was the feed for the reverse flotation. A phosphate concentrate of 30.51% P2
with a P2
recovery of 89.00% can be produced from the slime analyzing 24.25% P2
. Compared to the conventional direct-reverse flotation process, it was found that the reagent cost of the new gravity-flotation process was lower a quarter than that of the direct-reverse flotation flowsheet.
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