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Characterization and removal of iron from pyrophyllite ore for industrial applications

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2015, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 102-110

Jena, S.K.; Singh, S.; Rao, D.S.; Dhawan, N.; Misra, P.K.; Das, B.


Iron as an impurity in pyrophyllite ore affects pottery, ceramics and tile quality. We carried out the characterization of a pyrophyllite ore sample using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and wet chemical analysis. The study revealed the presence of 2.15% iron oxide (Fe2O3 ) along with silica and alumina as the major components, which constituted around 90% of the total sample. We carried out the removal of iron from the pyrophyllite using magnetic separation and acid leaching and found that wet high-intensity magnetic separation (WHIMS) could remove 28% of iron values while oxalic acid leaching could remove up to 99.3%. The leaching kinetics of iron removal and the effects of pulp density, acid concentration, leaching time and temperature were also investigated. The optimum conditions for leaching were found to be leaching time of 60 minutes, temperature of 90°C, pulp density of 5%, oxalic acid concentration of 0.3 M, and particle size below 100 microns. Iron dissolution from the pyrophyllite sample can be best described by the diffusion of ions through the product layer of constant-size spherical particles. The breakdown of the pyrophyllite structure was evident from the FTIR and TGA studies. The activation energy of the leaching process over the temperature range was calculated to be 43.47 kJ/mol.