Mineral sands represent an important new resource being developed in the Murray Basin, including parts of western Victoria. This paper will outline a simple methodology for mineral sands characterisation, developed as part of the AMIRA-managed project P777 ‘The Development of Heavy Suspension Techniques for High Density Separations (Replacement of Clerici’s Solution)’. This project is currently sponsored by three multinational mining companies (De Beers Consolidated Mines, Iluka Resources Limited and Rio Tinto Limited) and is developing an innovative laboratory mineral characterisation procedure that will allow the replacement of the currently employed highly-toxic chemicals. Mineral sand resources almost always contain more than one valuable (and relatively heavy) mineral. Titanium minerals are found with a large range of titanium contents, giving rise to density variation and often subjective mineralogical descriptions. Companies tend to rely on laboratory heavy liquid separation in the evaluation of samples arising from exploration, mining or metallurgical processes. Unfortunately, there are only a limited number of high density (‘heavy’) liquids and these tend to be more toxic as their density increases. Low-toxicity inorganic solutions, based on tungsten compounds, have been developed that can be utilised at relative densities (RD) up to 3.0. However, beyond this value currently only organic liquids can be used. Diiodomethane (methylene iodide) having a relative density of 3.31 is commonly used; however, this presents significant health and safety hazards. Mixtures of thallium formate and thallium malonate were found in the early 1900s by Clerici to provide liquids having specific gravities between 4.0 and 5.0, hence ‘Clerici’s solution’. For the characterisation of the heavy components of mineral sand deposits (eg anatase sg 3.9, rutile sg 4.2, ilmenite sg 4.4 – 4.7 and zircon sg 4.6 – 4.8) there is currently no heavy liquid alternative to Clerici’s solution. Clerici’s solution is highly toxic and testing is now conducted by very few laboratories worldwide with costs reflecting the chemical costs (though extensive efforts are made to recover and reuse the liquid, plus the requirement of its removal from the mineral samples), the infrastructure costs and health and safety regimes (eg blood testing of exposed staff, inventory management). A simple laboratory technique of density fractionation is being developed, employing suspensions of fine tungsten carbide particles in lithium heteropolytungstate (LST) solutions, that can replace Clerici’s solution in the evaluation of fine mineral sands samples (eg -250+150 microns). The developing methodology that can achieve low-cost, low-toxic separations at relative densities above 5.0 will be outlined and the comparison of results with Clerici’s solution presented.
This paper presents the results from the investigation of arsenopyrite oxidation via mechano-chemical activation, using a stirred mill. Water and hydrogen peroxide were chosen as the lixiviant and oxidant, respectively, and maintained at a relatively low temperature (50 °C). The milling media size, mill speed, slurry percent solids and amount of H2O2 added were all kept constant throughoust these experiments. The only operational variable for this investigation was the milling time, which results in increasing levels of specific energy provided by the mill. The products of activated arsenopyrite are characterised in terms of phase composition, particulate and structural characteristics, along with reactivity. Mechano-chemical activation of arsenopyrite under oxidizing conditions shows a maximum dissolution of around 9 wt% for iron and 7 wt% for arsenic after 2 h of milling. After 3 h of milling, the main phase present is found to be amorphous in nature.