The decrease in quality of Australian iron ore, coupled with the demand for more efficient energy use, necessitates closer monitoring and optimisation of process conditions for iron ore sinter production. Sinter properties are correlated with the mineralogical content and traditionally, quality control has relied on methods such as Fe2+ determination, point counting via optical microscopy and automated electron beam techniques such as QEMSCAN; these can have a typical turnaround time of several days between sampling and reporting of results. As well, there is additional uncertainty around quantifying some of the complex mineralogical phases in sinter such as silico-ferrite of calcium and aluminium (SFCA) and SFCA-I, which are key phases influencing sinter quality. There is a clear need for the implementation of alternative analytical methodologies that offer a turnaround in hours or even minutes to provide information to accurately maintain production conditions.
X-ray diffraction (XRD) is a technique widely used for the quantitative mineralogical phase analysis (QPA) of ores and processed materials in the iron ore industry. Partial least squares regression (PLSR) analysis methods have recently been suggested as an indicator of sinter Fe2+ content from powder XRD data without the need for rigorous and often time-consuming mineralogical analysis by the operator. In this study we provide results from the implementation of PLSR to predict the strength of iron ore sinter. Results are sourced from a well-constrained data set comprising strength properties (as quantified by a tumble index (TI)) from a series of compact laboratory test samples. Using this data set it was determined that PLSR has potential to be used as a method for calculation of sinter TI from powder XRD data and, therefore, process control.
Webster, N A S, Pownceby, M I, Ware, N and Pattel, R, 2017. Predicting iron ore sinter strength through X-ray diffraction analysis, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 331–334 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).