Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Faculty of Mining, Petroleum & Geophysics Engineering, Shahrood University of Technology, Shahrood, Iran

2 Iran Alumina Company



The global growth of aluminum demand with the modernization of our society has led to the interest in developing alternative methods to produce aluminum from non-bauxite and low-grade resources such as shale bauxites. For such reserves, the conventional Bayer process is challenging and is not efficient to extract aluminum, and the sintering process is known to be effective. Thus, this study aimed to scrutinize the technical feasibility of alumina extraction from an Iranian low-grade (shale) bauxite ore containing 36.22% Al2O3, 22.11% SiO2, 20.42% Fe2O3, 3.33% TiO2, and 3.13% CaO. In this regard, the sintering process with lime-soda followed by alkaline leaching was adopted to extract alumina, and response surface modeling was employed to assess the important parameters such as the sintering temperature, Na2O(caustic) concentration, CaO/SiO2 molar ratio, and Na2O/Al2O3 molar ratio. The findings indicated that the extraction rate improved by increasing the sintering temperature and CaO/SiO2 ratio and decreasing the Na2O(caustic) dose and Na2O/Al2O3 ratio. It was also found that the Na2O(caustic) concentration, sintering temperature, and interactive effect of Na2O(caustic) concentration with Na2O/Al2O3 ratio had the greatest influence on the extraction efficiency. The process optimization was conducted applying the desirability function approach, and more than 71% of Al2O3 was extracted at 1150 °C sintering temperature, 2.1 CaO/SiO2 molar ratio, 0.9 Na2O/Al2O3 molar ratio and 30 g/L Na2O(caustic) dose. Ultimately, it was concluded that a lime-soda sintering process at 1150 °C followed by one-step alkaline leaching with Na2O(caustic) at 90 °C could be metallurgically efficient for treating the low-grade (shale) bauxites.


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