Deposits of low-grade iron ores containing abundant goethite are distributed across the world. A common difficulty associated with beneficiating goethitic-rich ores is the poor liberation characteristics of the iron-bearing minerals which often contain finely disseminated gangue minerals such as kaolinite, gibbsite and quartz. Microwave-assisted heating has been proposed as an effective way of inducing dehydroxylation and associated mineral transformations in order to beneficiate low-grade goethitic ores. In this research, the mineral transformations occurring in a low-grade goethite-rich sample using microwave radiation was studied. Roasting conditions (up to 1000°C and under various CO/CO2 gas atmospheres) were designed to generate a magnetic product from a goethite-rich, reject waste stream sample sourced from an iron ore processing site in the Pilbara, Western Australia. Conditions (T, pO2) for transforming the raw material from hydrated goethite to hematite and eventually to magnetite are presented. Chemical and mineralogical characterisation of the raw material and roast products were conducted using X-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction, optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy techniques to identify the mineralogical and chemical changes occurring during the heat treatment. Further steps are suggested to optimise the microwave-assisted magnetising roasting and correlate it with the application of magnetic separation techniques to maximise the efficiency of upgrading the iron content in low-grade iron ores.
Nunna, V, Hapugoda, S and Pownceby, M I, 2017. Study of microwave-assisted magnetising roasting and mineral transformation of low‑grade goethite iron ores, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 575–582 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).