Develop new technolgies and techniques which enable recovery of strategic and critical minerals such as cobalt from domestic resources, thereby easing the U.S. dependence upon foreign producers for these valuable commodities.
The Bureau of Mines, through research, developed a process which uses mineral beneficiation techniques to recover cobalt-rich products from Missouri lead ores. Before development of this process, cobalt was lost as an impurity in the copper, lead, and zinc concentrates and in the mill tailings because the technology to recover it with minimum impact on present production did not exist.
Over 2.7 million lbs of cobalt, equivalent to about 15 pct of the Nations annual consumption, are lost each year due to a lack of technology permitting its, recovery from Missouri lead ores. These ores are now being mined for lead, copper, and zinc. The Bureau of Mines developed a process which fills this technology gap and allows for an alternative domestic source in the event that foreign supplies are suddenly cut-off. Currently cobalt is used in the manufacture of jet engines. At present the United States must rely upon Africa for sufficient quantities of this important metal.
The new cobalt recovery technique is a beneficiation process which uses a combination of fine grinding and froth flotation. The new process enables recovery of about 60 pct of the cobalt that winds up in copper concentrates made from the lead ores. The concentrates are first ground to an average size of 10 m. After grinding, the slurry is scrubbed to polish the mineral surfaces and a flotation collector is added. The collector adsorbs on the fresh mineral surfaces, causing the copper mineral to float away from the cobalt mineral. As flotation proceeds, additional collectors are added to enhance the process. Separation occurs in a stagewise fashion, with about 98 pct of the cell feed floated away as a copper concentrate and the combined tailings becoming an enriched cobalt product. The floated material goes to the next stage and is refloated with the same product as the previous stage. Six stages of flotation will recover 60 plus pct of the cobalt and increase the grade of the cobalt by 4 to 6 times to a range of 2.5 to 4.0 pct. The recovered grade is comparable to the cobalt concentrates produced in Africa. Recovery could be increased by adding additional stages.
The recovery method can be incorporated as an add-on to existing plants and will not interfere with in-place processes. Costs are incremental since the feed material for this process is an existing product. Removing cobalt as a separate product also enhances the original copper concentrate by removing not only the cobalt but by reducing the magnesium oxide and iron contents.
The cobalt recovery process has been tested at an operating Missouri lead mine using a continuous flotation unit with very good results. Tests have resulted in development of a flow-sheet that allows for the recovery of 70 pct or more of the cobalt in Missouri lead ore copper concentrates, at grades greater than 3 pct Co or 7 pct combined Ni-Co. This was accomplished on feeds grading as low as 0.25 pct Co. In addition, the flowsheet, which involves stage-wise separations, has proven to be much more flexible than the classic rough, scavenge, and clean configuration.
In the flotation process of the copper mine, the use of flotation reagents to change the surface properties of the mineral is a flexible and effective way to control the flotation behavior. It is also an important reason why flotation can be widely used in mineral processing. This article mainly focuses on copper collectors, inhibitors, activators, foaming agents, ore-leaching bacteria, lixivium, extractants, etc.
Copper and sulfur in copper ore have strong collection properties, which is also conducive to improving the recovery of associated gold in copper sulphide ores. The flotation effect of refractory copper-sulfur ore containing secondary copper minerals is better than that with butyl xanthate, but its selectivity is worse.
As the excellent collector and foaming agent for non-ferrous metal ores, it has a special separation effect on the copper, lead, silver and activated zinc sulfide ores and refractory polymetallic ores.
It has stronger collection capacity than xanthates, especially for chalcopyrite. It has weaker collection capacity for pyrite, but better selectivity and faster flotation speed. Better separation effect than xanthate can be obtained by using it in the separation of copper-lead sulfide ore.
As the highly selective collector, it has very low solubility in water and high activity for flotation of copper, zinc, molybdenum and other sulfide ores, as well as precipitated copper, segregate copper, etc. It's often used in combination with water-soluble collectors to increase the efficacy, reduce dosage and improve selectivity.
DMDC: It has a strong collection capacity for copper and a weak collection capacity for pyrite and unactivated sphalerite. It can be used for copper and sulfur separation and its flotation index is higher than butyl xanthate.
Compared with the xanthate or aerofloat, it has higher selectivity and stability. It has a stronger collection effect on chalcopyrite and chalcocite, but a weaker collection ability on pyrite. The amount of pyrite inhibitor can be reduced during the flotation of copper sulfide.
Under the condition of alkalescence, it has good collecting ability and selectivity for chalcopyrite and other copper-bearing minerals, as well as strong collecting ability for associated precious metals such as gold and silver.
QF collector, containing thiocarbonyl functional groups, has strong collection capacity for natural gold, chalcopyrite and other minerals. Its ability to collect gold and copper is higher than that of low-grade xanthate and dithiocarbamate collectors.
PN405 has a strong selective collecting and foaming capacity for copper ore. By using this agent alone or with a small number of xanthate collectors, a better selection index can be obtained when floating the copper. It is also a high-efficiency collecting and foaming agent for copper-nickel sulfide ore to be used in conjunction with Y89 xanthate.
MOS-2 has strong new selective collecting ability for copper ore and weak collecting ability for pyrite. The separation of copper and sulfur can be realized and the dosages of collectors, lime and no. 2 oil can be reduced in lower alkaline medium by using it. Mos-2 collector also has a good foaming performance, so when using it as a collector, less or no foaming agent can be used.
It is a new class of ester collector for copper sulfide, which can preferentially collect copper in the rough selection stage with strong chemical adsorption on the surface of copper, and it is not easy to fall off.
It has good collecting performance and selectivity for copper sulfide, good selectivity for skarn copper ore with high secondary copper content, and can separate copper and sulfur in low alkaline medium.
It is a collector of copper sulfide ore, which has both foaming properties with rich and non-sticky foam, good selectivity, strong collecting property and fast flotation speed to improve concentrate grade. It has a wide PH range and can be added in stock solution.
It is a modified chalcophile chelating agent, which has no other hydration group except the groups that can form chelating compounds with copper, and can form stable hydrophobic polymers insoluble in water (or with very low solubility) with the surface of copper oxide.
It has a strong inhibitory effect on sulphide ores other than chalcopyrite. It can avoid the inhibitory effect on chalcopyrite when using too much sodium sulfide. It can be used in combination with sodium sulfite and zinc sulfate.
The combination of T-16 + zinc sulfate inhibitor can inhibit zinc, activate copper and lead, and eliminate the effect of slurry foam viscosity, which can effectively realize the flotation separation of copper-lead and zinc.
One of the development trends of mining is the application of bioleaching technology to recover important metals from various low-grade ores. Compared with traditional mineral processing technology, biological leaching technology has the characteristics of low cost, easy operation and low pollution.
The extractant can chemically react with the extract to form an extractable compound that can be dissolved in the organic phase, which is the most critical factor affecting the success of the extraction process.
In the flotation process of copper ore, the beneficiation reagent is an important factor that determines the flotation effect. It is one of the main research directions of mineral processing workers to explore a new copper flotation process and develop new cost-effective and environmentally friendly reagents to improve the utilization rate of copper resources.
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Mechanical processing was effective in recovering cobalt, copper and aluminum from LIB.Cobalt was mainly distributed in the finer fractions of LIB.Copper and aluminum were distributed in the higher granulometric ranges of LIB.Mechanical processing provides a potential method for metal preconcentration from LIB.
Lithium-ion batteries are widely used as a power source for portable equipment. In the present work a sample of batteries was submitted to a series of mechanical processes to recover cobalt, copper and aluminum. The initial milling process promoted a previous particle distribution of the metal content fractions. Each of these fractions underwent to the most suitable recovery process according to their composition, especially regarding the presence of copper and magnetic metals such as iron and cobalt. The magnetic separation was efficient for particle sizes from 1mm to 2mm, resulting in a concentrate with up to 54% copper. The gravimetric separation with a Wilfley table, performed on the fraction with lower concentration of magnetic metals, resulted in a concentrate with up to 66% copper. Cobalt is found mainly in the fine material with particle sizes smaller than 1mm. Quantitative chemical analysis has shown promising results when the concentrate is leached, with the cobalt concentration corresponding to 80% of the dissolved elements. The results demonstrate that it is possible to obtain rich concentrates of cobalt and copper through mechanical processing of lithium-ion batteries, and that it is feasible to concentrate aluminum as a by-product by applying additional mechanical processes.
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Mining is increasingly taking place at depths where sulphide bodies are present, which has led to a need to reinvent beneficiation methods.Gravity separation is used either as a preconcentration step or during the extraction of rich concentrates from process tails.Sulphidisation followed by flotation is the preferred beneficiation technique for oxidised copper-cobalt ores.The integration of CPS systems into the flotation circuits can help minimise reagent overconsumption.Application of selective flotation can help a concentrator to produce separate oxide and sulphide concentrates.
Copper and cobalt (CuCo) are strategic metals for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and nearly 20% of the country's GDP is supported by their exports. At present, the country classifies itself as the leading copper producer in Africa with an output in the region of a million tonnes and possesses nearly 60% of the world's reserves of Co; a metal exclusively exported in the form of salts or semi-finished products. Concentrators play a very important role in the growth of CuCo metal production, which is needed in order to meet rapidly growing global demand and to increase government revenues through mining royalties. This article reviews the major process flow sheets and reagent suites in practice at concentrators operated in the DRC for the beneficiation of CuCo values from various ore types. The comprehensive compilation of pertinent laboratory and industrial data is intended to provide practising specialists, metallurgists, and academics conducting research on Congolese CuCo ores with a single well-detailed reference source. Emphasis is placed on froth flotation as the major technique for the beneficiation of CuCo minerals.
In the booming electric vehicle market, the demand for refined cobalt is showing a blowout growth. China is the largest cobalt-refiner and cobalt-importer in the world. However, the life cycle inventory and potential environmental impact from cobalt refining in China have not been clearly illustrated. This paper builds a comprehensive inventory to support the data needs of downstream users of cobalt sulfate. A cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment was conducted to provide theoretical support to stakeholders.
A life cycle assessment was performed based on ISO 14040 to evaluate the potential environmental impact and recognize the key processes. The system boundary of this study contains four stages of cobalt sulfate production: mining, beneficiation, primary extraction, and refining. Except for the experimental data used in the primary extraction stage, all relevant data are actual operating data. The normalization value was calculated based on the latest released global emission and extraction data.
Normalization results show that the potential impacts of cobalt refining were mainly concentrated in the fossil depletion and freshwater ecotoxicity categories. The beneficiation stage and the refining stage account for 72% and 26% of the total normalization value, respectively. The beneficiation stage needs to consume a lot of chemicals and energy to increase the cobalt content, due to the low grade of cobalt ore in China. Compared with cobalt concentrate, the use of cobalt-containing waste (e.g., cobalt waste from EV batteries) can ease endpoint impact by up to 73%. With the application of the target electricity structure in 2050, the potential impact of Chinas cobalt sulfate production on global warming, fossil depletion, and particulates formation can be reduced by 24%, 22%, and 26%, respectively.
Findings indicate that the chemical inputs and electricity consumption are primary sources of potential environmental impact in Chinas cobalt sulfate production. Promoting the development of urban mines can reduce excessive consumption of chemicals and energy in the beneficiation stage. The environmental benefits of transforming the electricity structure and using more renewable energy to reduce dependence on coal-based power in the cobalt refining industry were revealed.
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We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 71671105; 71974113), National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant Nos. 2017YFF0206702; 2017YFF0211605), Major Basic Research Projects of the Shandong Natural Science Foundation, China (ZR2018ZC2362), and The Fundamental Research Funds of Shandong University, China (2018JC049).
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Pre-concentration stages are generally employed to process base and precious metals where the feed grades are inferior. The pre-concentration could remove major gangue minerals and enrich the desired metal content. Further, it improves the efficiency of subsequent concentration stages. In the present investigation, pre-concentration studies were carried out on the mixed copper ore from Malanjkhand, India, containing 0.48% Cu and 74.12% SiO2 contents. Mineralogical characterization revealed that chalcopyrite is the major copper contributing mineral along with a minor amount of malachite. The major gangue minerals present in the ore are quartz, feldspar and mica. Liberation studies of the feed material indicate that around 75% of gangue minerals (mainly quartz) are liberated at 150m. Pre-concentration studies were carried out using a Wilfley shaking table, wherein deck angle and wash water rate were varied to achieve the maximum recovery and grade. Optimum results were achieved at a wash water rate of 3.5 lpm and deck angle of 4.9, wherein the silica rejection and separation efficiency of 52.19% and 53.68% were achieved. The final product assays 2.79% Cu grade and 66.32% copper recovery. The investigation results indicate that the shaking table could be used to pre-concentrate Malanjkhand copper ore.
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The author is greatly thankful to Central Research Facility, IIT (ISM) Dhanbad, Indian Bureau of Mines-Nagpur and Material Research Centre-MNIT, Jaipur, for characterization studies. My sincere acknowledgement to Director, CSIR-IMMT for his permission to do experimental work. I also acknowledge the help of Dr. P. K. Sahu [Department of Applied geology, IIT(ISM) Dhanbad]. The help of Ms. Monisha Mondal and Miss. Aryasuta Nayak is highly appreciated. The author also gratefully acknowledge the reviewer, for his detailed review and comments, which ultimately helped in considerably improvement of this manuscript.
Jena, S.S., Angadi, S.I., Mandre, N.R. et al. An Investigation into Pre-concentration of Low-Grade Silica-Rich Malanjkhand Copper Ore by Wilfley Table. Trans Indian Inst Met 74, 571581 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12666-020-02160-y