1Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran
2School of Mining Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
This study aims to investigate and optimize the effects of the main parameters including the particle size, gravity and magnetic separation combination, high gradient magnetic separation, magnetic field intensity, shaking table slope, washing water flow, and electrostatic separation upon the rare earth element (REE) recoveries from iron mine waste. The electron microprobe showed that high amounts of REEs were distributed on the fluorapatite mineral, and hence, it was necessary to remove the high magnetic minerals by a low-intensity magnetic separation using a magnetic drum in an experimental procedure. A cyclic magnetic separator was used for the low-gradient magnetic separation. Moreover, a shaking table and an electrostatic separator were used to expand the recovery and grade of REEs. A combination of these methods was considered to optimize the REE recoveries based on the best combination including two steps of low magnetic separation, one step of medium intensity magnetic separation, a shaking table, and an electrostatic separator. Two low-intensity magnetic of 800 and 2000 gauss, one medium-intensity magnetic of 8000 gauss, a one-step shaking table with a water flow of 90 mL/s and a table slope of 3 degree, and one electrostatic separator of 25000 V with a blade angel of 20 degree had the best performance to separate REEs. The microscopic studies carried out showed that the monazite degree of freedom was between 75 and 105 micron. The results obtained showed that a particle size of ‒75 + 63 micron was a proper one to separate REEs. The total recovery and grade of the REE (Ce, La, Nd, Er, and Gd) concentrate obtained from the sample with a grade of 1499 ppm of REEs were 67.1 and 1.2%, respectively, at the optimum conditions. The results obtained showed that there was a direct relation between the phosphor grade and the REE recoveries, and that the REE recoveries increased by increasing the quantity of phosphor.