Different types of separation methods for minerals

As sustainability concerns affecting climate change increase, environmentally friendly methods in the mining and mineral processing industries have become a major source of interest.

New developments in dry mineral processing are fast replacing wet methods, and ST Equipment & Technology, a leader in electrostatic separation is at the head of the pack with its cutting-edge innovations.

What is Ore Beneficiation?

Ore is a term for either a native metal or a metal-bearing mineral or rock that is mined for profit. Mineral processing is the first step for ore once it leaves the mine. The process involves ore preparation, milling, and ore dressing, commonly known as beneficiation.

Beneficiation mechanically separates the grains of ore minerals from the gangue (low-value) minerals that surround them in order to produce a concentrate made up of useful minerals.

This separation can be done either physically, via gravity separation, electrostatic separation, and magnetic separation, or chemically, using froth flotation, leaching, and electrowinning. Unusable minerals, which are often discarded into dams, are called tailing.

In order to understand the benefits of dry mineral processing, you must first understand how it differs from other methods.

Wet Beneficiation (Froth Flotation)

Froth flotation dates back to the late 19th century and was the first method developed by the mining industry to separate minerals from ore.
Froth Flotation, which is also used in the paper recycling and waste-water treatment industries, works on the principles of density as well as the water properties of mineral particles. Separation occurs when the minerals are soaked in a chemical solution, causing the materials to aggregate based on whether they are hydrophobic (water-repellant) or hydrophilic (water-attracting).
Froth flotation uses large amounts of water laced with chemical agents, most of which is unrecyclable. Once processed it must be dried out before delivery. This means it’s not a very environmentally positive method.

Dry Beneficiation

Dry beneficiation separates mineral matter based on differences in its density, shape, size, luster, shape, electrical and/or magnetic susceptibilities. Magnetic and electrostatic/tribo-electrostatic separation fall into this category. As the name implies, it uses less, if any water than froth flotation, reducing many of the disadvantages of wet grinding.

Electrodynamic and Electrostatic – are the main types of electrostatic separators. These work in a similar manner, but differ in which forces are applied to particles, i.e., electrostatic attraction or magnitude. Gravity separation employs centrifugal forces adapted to the specific gravity of ores and gangue in order to separate them.

Magnetic separation works by moving particles in a magnetic field in order to separate the gangue from the usable ore.

Dry Beneficiation Benefits

Benefits of dry beneficiation include increased productivity and safety, sustainability, and zero waste. In addition to reduced water consumption, this method has fewer production phases and uses less power and equipment.

Eliminating water also removes the need for expensive dewatering processes, including pumping, screening, filtering, and centrifuging.

Why Choose ST Equipment & Technology For Your Dry Minerals Separation Equipment?

Located in Needham, Massachusetts, we’ve created a triboelectric separator that separates minerals according to their tribocharging susceptibility, i.e., how particles respond when electrically charged by contact in an electric field. Not only is it revolutionizing minerals processing, it’s also proven to be highly effective for food & feed separation. When used to beneficiate flours, meals, protein concentrate, and fiber.

For the best dry separation equipment in the industry, look no further than ST Equipment & Technology LLC (STET). It is leading the way in the minerals separation industry. Our triboelectric separation beneficiates micron-size particles through a totally dry process. It requires no additional materials or drying time and reduces the carbon footprint.

In addition, we serve as a valuable resource to others in the mineral processing industry. Contact our technology experts to learn more.