Iron is the second most common element on Earth, comprising nearly 5% of Earth’s crust. Iron ores are rocks and minerals that contain iron, refined through mining and processing. Almost 100% of mined iron ore is used in steel production, making it essential for everything from staples to buildings.
The dry separation industry is fast-growing, developing environmentally friendly methods to contend with the growing risks of iron ore tailings management. Recent high-profile failures of tailing dams and impoundments have generated a strong interest in the industry to find alternative uses for tailings and eliminate high-risk wet tailing storage ponds.
ST Equipment & Technology (STET) is a leader in the water-free minerals separation equipment field. Our groundbreaking electrostatic separation equipment utilizes a dehydrated method of fine iron separation based on electrical conductivity.
Beneficiation is the term for reducing the size of valuable iron ore particles and separating them from the gangue (unusable minerals), which are then discarded as tailings. There are several different methods of wet and dry separation. The type of beneficiation employed depends on the physical and mineralogical properties specific to each iron ore deposit.
Iron ore processing involves a series of steps to extract and refine iron from its ore deposits. The first stage is mining, where large-scale open-pit or underground operations extract iron ore from the Earth. Once extracted, the ore undergoes crushing and screening to break it into smaller pieces and classify it based on size. Following this, the ore is subjected to various iron ore beneficiation processes such as gravity separation, magnetic separation, and flotation to remove impurities and increase iron content. Magnetic separation is particularly effective in separating iron ore from gangue minerals due to the magnetic properties of iron. However, magnetic separation loses its effectiveness on finer particles, often lost as tailings.
Iron ore tailings, which are the byproducts generated during iron ore processing, can pose several environmental and safety challenges. Some of the key problems associated with iron ore tailings include:
Electrostatic separation is an industrial process using electrostatic charges to separate large quantities of material particles differentially. It’s most commonly used to sort mineral ore, helping to remove foreign material and leave behind a purified substance. Because STET’s electrostatic separation equipment is uniquely suited to processing fine iron ore minerals, it can drastically reduce the amount of tailings generated during a traditional iron ore processing operation.
Electrostatic separation is a completely dry processing operation with zero water consumption, which means no energy is expended for pumping, thickening, and drying and no costs from water treatment and disposal. Other benefits of electrostatic separation include lower investment and operating costs and ease of permitting due to its minimized environmental impact. This process requires no chemical additives, further enhancing its environmental benefits.
ST Equipment & Technology (STET) develops and manufactures Tribo electrostatic separators for the fly ash and minerals industry using a proprietary electrostatic separation process developed by an MIT scientist. We’re proud of our unique iron ore beneficiation process, which benefits the mining industry and the environment.
Our specialized separation equipment for fine minerals has developed an impeccable reputation in North America, Europe, and Asia thanks to a dedicated team of experts solving separation challenges for our customers.