For low density materials such as coal, density-based fractionation of particles via the sink-float method is relatively simple due to the availability of liquids of suitable density; however, for high density minerals, suitable heavy liquids are less available and those that are available are expensive and pose significant hazards. At best, sink-float separation can be performed up to densities of 4400 kg/m3 with the use of Clerici’s solution at elevated temperatures. Hence the direct measurement of grade-recovery and density-partition curves is problematic. Therefore, in most cases, beneficiation plants must rely on methods such as QEMSCAN, density tracer particles or very limited information to guide them in the design and optimisation of their plants.
This paper describes a density-fractionation method utilising laminar flow through a system of parallel inclined channels to generate a series of overflow fractions at different flow velocities. Here the particles are subject to precise hydrodynamic forces with minimal dispersion or mixing. The size distribution of each overflow fraction at a given flow velocity is obtained using a laser particle size analyser, and combined with a laminar flow model to deduce the corresponding density distribution. The paper describes the application of the method to measure the separation achieved using a REFLUX Classifier to obtain the corresponding feed, product and reject ‘washability curves’, and in turn the full partition surface. Approaches used to corroborate the findings are discussed.
Hunter, D M, Iveson, S M and Galvin, K P, 2017. A batch elutriation technique for the density-based fractionation of iron ore, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 195–104 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).