Dry separation of iron ore fines and other heavy minerals has previously been achieved using one of two main approaches. The first is an inclined table with an upward airflow via small holes to help form an autogenous dense medium. The second is based on fluidised beds comprising a dense medium formed by fine particles suspended in an upward flow of air. In either case, vibration can be introduced. This paper describes recent findings using a novel system referred to as the Sink-Hole Fluidiser, which utilises elements of both these two former approaches. This device consists of a conventional gas-fluidised bed of fine medium with a 1 mm aperture mesh located at the surface. This mesh contains relatively large holes that act as sink-holes. The fluidised media flows upwards through the sink-holes and then falls back into the fluidised bed via the fine apertures in the mesh. The particles being separated, which are much larger than the fine media, pass over these sink-holes, where they either sink or float. The sink-holes offer a more precise balance of forces, applied on a single particle basis, resulting in robust density separation.
Experiments have been performed using 2.0–4.0 mm tracer particles of density varying from 2.4 to 4.8 relative densities (RD) separated in a 200 mm diameter Sink-Hole Fluidiser with a single 13 mm diameter centrally-located sink-hole. In this preliminary semi-batch work, it was found that the Sink-Hole Fluidiser was able to achieve sharp separations (Ep as low as 0.20). This work underpins the development of a new continuous steady-state Sink-Hole Fluidiser, applicable to the dry separation of iron ore fines.
Kumar, D, Iveson, S M and Galvin, K P, 2017. A novel sink-hole fluidisation method for dry separation of iron ore fines, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 221–226 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).