TABLE 3-4 Opportunities for Research and Development in Mineral Processing

COMMINUTION

Metal and Coal Mining

• effects of various blasting and ore-handling schemes on comminution efficiency and productivity

• more energy-efficient comminution methods

• more energy-efficient production of ultra-fine particles

• improved components leading toward overall optimization of mining systems

• development of fast, accurate, mineral-liberation analysis with feedback to comminution

• minimization of fine particles in coal production

• development of more efficient recovery and reconfiguration of coal fines

• improved wear resistance in materials used in crushing and grinding

Industrial Minerals

• improved methods for selective grinding and efficient sizing

• improved quality control for consistently sized products

• measurement and control of product size

• measurement of properties of dry fine particles

PHYSICAL SEPARATION

Gravity Separation

• efficient gravity separation for fine particles and ultra-fine minerals

• improvements in multiforce separation technology

• more efficient heavy media

• integration of approaches in multiprocess (gravity and flotation) systems for total plant optimization

• lower cost and increased dependability of process instrumentation and control mechanisms for process parameters

Magnetic/Electrostatic Separation (Wet and Dry)

• efficient, economical, high-intensity magnetic separation technology

• expansion of efficient, economical electrical separation technology

• broader use of efficient, economical nonconductive (eddy-current) type separation technology

• improved on-stream mineral analysis and particle-size distribution

Ore-Sorting Separation

• discovery of specific reagents or instrumentation for surface identification of individual minerals

• ore-sorting systems for minerals with particle sizes under 2.5 mm

• methods of rapid, continuous mineral identification

Flotation

• improved flotation systems for fine and ultra-fine mineral systems

• improved, economical flotation reagents

• improved understanding of column-cell process dynamics and cell design

• perfected on-stream analysis of mineral species, chemical composition, and particle-size distribution

• optimized flotation operations

Selective Flocculation

• selective flocculation processes

HYDROMETALLURGY AND CHEMICAL PROCESSING

• nontoxic, efficient lixiviants for metals extraction

• control and management of environmental hazards and stabilization of solid wastes and aqueous effluents

• new corrosion/abrasion-resistant materials for chemical-processing reactors

• robust, effective on-stream sensors

• models and simulations of processing to predict and optimize processing

• fundamentals of high-pressure and high-temperature reactions

• selective, stable ion-exchange resins and polymers for metals separation

• membrane technologies

Biotechnology

• fundamental advances in understanding of micro-organism/mineral interactions, genetics related to monitoring microbial activity in processing and strain development, and nonacidic microbial leaching systems

• basic research on the genetics of micro-organisms used in mineral processing to develop enumeration and identification techniques and improve microbial strains

• identification of nonacidic microbial mineral-processing technologies with scale-up of the most technically and economically promising processes

• bioprocessing methods for selective metal recovery and concentration



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