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X-ray tomography for mineral processing technology – 3D particle characterization from mine to mill

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2018, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 1-12

Miller, J.D.; Lin, C.L.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.19150/mmp.8052


From mine to mill, the 3D characterization of particles ranging in size from meters to micrometers is now possible. A brief review of X-ray tomography for mineral processing is given with recent advances considered, such as high-speed scanning and image analysis procedures to describe important particle properties, including size, shape and composition. 

   Considering these new 3D characterization tools, applications in mineral processing are discussed for high-resolution X-ray microtomography (HRXMT) laboratory analysis of particles ranging from 20 mm to 5 μm, with a voxel resolution of about 1 μm, including (1) multiphase particle characterization by HRXMT and comparison with scanning electron microscopy (SEM), (2) particle damage state as a result of blasting/comminution, (3) liberation characterization to describe expected separation efficiency, (4) exposed grain surface area analysis to explain the flotation of locked particles, and (5) floc size, shape and water content for polymer-induced flocculation.
   Finally, applications in mineral processing for plant-site analysis using high-speed X-ray computed tomography (HSXCT) are examined, including, for example, coal washability analysis, the analysis of crusher plant products, and the analysis of pebble phosphate products from central Florida. Scanning rates on the order of 1 kg/min for particle sizes ranging from 150 mm to 1 mm are possible, with a voxel resolution of about 100 μm. For coarse particles smaller than 5 to 10 mm, high scanning rates of more than 300 t/h may be possible at a voxel resolution of about 1 mm.

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