Configuration of flowsheet and reagent dosage for gilsonite flotation towards the ultra-low-ash concentrate
Gilsonite has a wide variety of applications in the industry, including the manufacture of electrodes, paints and resins, as well as the production of asphalt and roof-waterproofing material. Gilsonite ash is a determining parameter for its application in some industries (e.g., gilsonite with ash content < 5% used as an additive in drilling fluids, resins). Due to the shortage of high grade (low ash) gilsonite reserves, the aim of this study is to develop a processing flowsheet for the production of ultra-low-ash gilsonite (< 5%), based on process mineralogy studies and processing tests. For this purpose, mineralogical studies and flotation tests have been performed on a sample of gilsonite with an average ash content of 15%. According to mineralogical studies, carbonates and clay minerals are the main associated impurities (more than 90 vol.%). Furthermore, sulfur was observed in two forms of mineral (pyrite and marcasite) and organic in the structure of gilsonite. Most of these impurities are interlocked with gilsonite in size fractions smaller than 105 µm. The size fraction of + 105 − 420 µm has a higher pure gilsonite (approximately 90%) than other size fractions. By specifying the gangue minerals with gilsonite and the manner and extent of their interlocking with gilsonite, + 75 − 420 µm size fraction selected to perform flotation tests. Flotation tests were performed using different reagents including collector (Gas oil, Kerosene and Pine oil), frother (MIBC) and depressant (sodium silicate, tannic acid, sulfuric acid and sodium cyanide) in different dosages. Based on the results, the use of kerosene collector, MIBC frother and a mixture of sodium silicate, tannic acid, sulfuric acid and sodium cyanide depressant had the most favorable results in gilsonite flotation in the rougher stage. Cleaner and recleaner flotation stages for the rougher flotation concentrate resulted in a product with an ash content of 4.89%. Due to the interlocking of gilsonite with impurities in size fractions − 105 µm, it is better to re-grinding the concentrate of the rougher stage beforehand flotation in the cleaner and recleaner stages. Finally, based on the results of mineralogical studies and processing tests, a processing flowsheet including crushing and initial granulation of gilsonite, flotation in rougher, cleaner and recleaner stages has been proposed to produce gilsonite concentrate with < 5% ash content.