The final fineness of the product mainly depends on the number of times the ore particles pass through the grinder. The longer the grinding, the smaller the particle size. Separate crushing and grinding steps are necessary, the ball mill can only receive the broken ore particle, and then grind to the grinding fineness required for flotation.
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Grinding and flotation
In order to separate the concentrate from the ore, the ore should be ground fine enough to release the target mineral from the non-mineral grains. The degree of grinding required for this depends on the size of the mineral particles in the ore. A laboratory-scale flotation test is usually required on materials of different particle sizes to determine the grinding particle size required to release the target minerals.
The fineness of the ore particles produced by grinding is crucial to recover the minerals by flotation. The most common grinding machines are semi-automatic (SAG) and automatic (AG) mills and ball mills.
Determining an optimal grinding size can maximize the recovery of target minerals in the subsequent flotation process.
The grinding size is too large, and some ore particles and non-ore particles cannot be separated, thus preventing their flotation. If the particle size is too fine, the bubbles that rise during the flotation will push the very fine ore-containing particles away, preventing them from contacting the bubbles, thereby reducing their ability to be recovered into the concentrate.
In addition, extremely fine rock and iron sulfide particles may agglomerate with extremely fine sulfide ore particles, preventing the ore particles from floating.
According to the test, the particles usually need to be ground to a diameter of about 100 mm to release minerals from each other. When the particles are less than about 10 mm, this is not conducive to the flotation effect.
Grinding operations are very power-hungry, which is another reason to avoid excessive grinding.
The grinding circuit usually consists of a SAG or AG mill and one or two ball mills. Grinding is continuous and fully integrated with subsequent flotation operations.
SAG or AG mills
The crushed products are ground in SAG or AG mills. The self-grinding machine can grind ore without grinding media such as iron ball, or steel rod, as long as the hardness of the ore is sufficient for the rolling ore to grind by itself.
A large vibrating screen is used to sieve the ground products to separate the oversized particles. A small cone crusher to recover the oversized material, and then sent them return to the SAG or AG mill for re-grinding. The correct size material is sent to the ball mill for final grinding.
The ball mill is the fine grinding machine connect the SAG or AG mill and flotation machine. Ball mills produce fine particles with a uniform size for flotation, its grinding medias commonly are steel ball. The ball mill rolls grinding media together with the ore, as the ore grinds, these balls initially 5-10 cm in diameter but gradually wear out.
Grinding is always carried out under wet conditions, with about 70% solid mixture in water.
This procedure maximizes ore production and minimizes power consumption.
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