Complete value recovery

November 20th, 2018

Increased profitability through complete value recovery

When processing titano-magnetite ore, producers focus primarily on mining processes and pig iron production. However, by failing to process the other valuable materials — primarily titanium and vanadium — present in titano-magnetite ore, producers overlook a promising source of profit and an opportunity to improve a site’s economic position.

Failure to act on this potential new stream of revenue is not necessarily due to disinterest or ignorance, however. The fact that titano-magnetite ore has a refractory nature and is high in titania (TiO2) prevents it from being as readily processed as conventional iron ore.

While there is a growing interest and focus on processing other valuable materials found in titano-magnetite ore, the extraction process often relies on hydrometallurgical routes. However, this approach has some risks, including:

  • slow reaction rates
  • low recovery of compounds of interest
  • acidic residues and waste liquors.

These can lead the material extraction process to be viewed as excessive, expensive and unviable for many ore producers.

So, how can you overcome these challenges and develop processes that will effectively optimise your operation’s profitability and reduce product waste?

Understanding complete value recovery process development

Complete value recovery from titano-magnetite ore deposits requires knowledge of ore mineralogy and chemistry, as well as fluxing requirements to obtain efficient smelting operations.

Without appropriate modelling and access to test facilities, it is difficult to successfully determine which parameters or features are required to ensure process success. This can lead to revenue loss through:

  • ineffective process development
  • continuing to run undeveloped and unprofitable sites
  • environmental problems due to hazardous waste disposal
  • inefficient recovery of valuable ore components.

Overcoming barriers through development of high temperature processes

Developing a high temperature based smelting process provides pig iron producers — or producers currently running operations focused on one core mineral — the opportunity to de-risk their business and capture additional saleable products as part of their core smelting process.

With the right methods, it is possible to develop energy efficient, environmentally friendly and economically viable high temperature-based operations.

These methods include modelling and testing material in multi-scale testing facilities. Thermodynamic process models and high temperature processing knowledge will help to overcome the risks of untested processes. In addition, computational fluid dynamics modelling, material characterisation, and fluids engineering can be applied to the development of alternative titano-magnetite processes.

Our holistic, low-risk approach to developing high temperature smelting processes

We are able to perform the necessary titano-magnetite test work to reduce the technical risks and increase your confidence in a more holistic value recovery approach.

For instance, when considering alternative routes that are less capital and energy intensive than conventional processes for titano-magnetite deposits, we offer suggestions that will lead to more efficient recovery of rutile and vanadium in addition to iron.

Our approach specifically involves smelting to recover iron in metallic form, controlling smelting conditions so vanadium is recovered through the metallic iron, and controlling the chemistry and handling of the slag to recover rutile through slag beneficiation — which ultimately results in reduced residues.

To help you achieve these results, CSIRO can assemble a multi-disciplinary team to deal with the high temperature processing of titano-magnetite ores whereby we:

  • perform the necessary smelting test work to obtain an iron product, asthe processing of titano-magnetite ores requires a high degree of iron metallisation and high reduction rate
  • design a slag phase which is liquid at moderate smelting temperatures, using thermodynamic modelling (using the multi-phase equilibrium (MPE))
  • design a slag phase which is amenable to further processing and TiO2 recovery — a multi-disciplined approach is likely to be required where the titania is recovered from the slag phase
  • perform the mineral beneficiation work required to recover TiO2 in a separate high-grade process stream
  • perform the necessary test work to recover vanadium in the iron metal phase and as vanadium chemicals.

By using science-led methodologies, CSIRO obtains the necessary data and technical information that underpins accurate techno-economic studies and plant design to optimise your operations.

“Thermodynamic modelling and high temperature experimentation are useful tools in the design of flowsheets for the full value recovery from titanomagnetite ores. CSIRO’s MPE modelling package can be used to design the slag chemistry for titanomagnetite smelting which is needed to achieve high rates of rutile and vanadium recovery.  CSIRO has the necessary thermodynamic models and experimental expertise to design and test these processes.”

– Sharif Jahanshahi, Director Meta-Logical Solutions

Engaging CSIRO

Our expertise, facilities, and extensive research capabilities can assist in developing and optimising your operations, increasing profitability and reducing product waste to improve environmental outcomes.

Contact the CSIRO Mineral Resources Optimisation team on +61 3 9545 8912 or email me, to talk about how we can work together on your next R&D project.

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