Geometallurgy study of the Catalão I Nelsonite bodies aiming to increase the niobium production
Leonardo Vasconcellos Rangel, Douglas Batista Mazzinghy, Gilberto Rodrigues da Silva, Felipe Seguin, Michelle Fernanda De Lira Teixeira, Sebastião Ubaldino Ferreira Junior, Caio Henrique Ribeiro Vieira, Wanderson Ferreira Borges Junior, Vinicius Campos Silva, Gabriel Rocha Dimitrov
Increasing the recovery of the niobium metal contained in the Nelsonite rocks presents a great challenge, considering the standards and the production targets of the China Molybdenum Company (CMOC) that produces phosphate and with tailings material, concentrate niobium minerals. At Chapadão mine, located in Goiás, a mid-west Brazil’s state, the weathering profile reaches up to 100 meters and the ore is subdivided into three basic types, from top to bottom: Oxidized (OX), Top Micaceous (TM) and Base Micaceous (BM). In this study, samples from these three main bodies of Nelsonite were collected and tested in laboratory scale to identify which weathering level is more favourable to niobium concentrate production. In the niobium concentration process, there can be metal losses that can jeopardize the recovery of the niobium crystals. To evaluate these losses microscopy analysis was performed using samples from industrial plant survery. The results from flotation batch tests showed that BM presented the higher mass recovery and production capacity. According to the mineralogical results the main niobium losses were identified in the barite concentrate from apatite circuit and in the screening stage in the Niobium Plant feed. The batch test results showed that adjusting the cut size of the Niobium Plant there is a potential niobium recovery upgraded to 90% from Ba-pyrochlore, and, adding the barite concentrate product as an additional mass in the tailings feed, it will result together in more than 1 t/day of niobium concentrate final product, reducing the losses and utilizing better the ore blend recovery potential.
1 Dunham S, Vann J. Geometallurgy, geostatistics and project value: does your block model tell you what you need to know? Parkville: AusIMM; 2007. p. 189-196. (Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Publication Series).
2 Walters S. An overview of new integrated geometallurgical research. In Proceedings of the International Congress for Applied Mineralogy; 2008 September 8-10; Brisbane, Australia. Melbourne: Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy; 2008. p. 79-82.
3 Turner-Saad G. Vision for a risk adverse integrated Geometallurgy Framework. In Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Canadian Mineral Processors; 2010; Ottawa, Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum; 2010. p. 156.
4 Lamberg P. Particles-the bridge between geology and metallurgy. In Konferens i Mineralteknik; 2011 February 8-9; Luleå, Sweden. Luleå: Luleå Tekniska Universitet; 2011.
5 Bye AR. Case studies demonstrating value from geometallurgy initiatives. In Proceedings of the International Geometallurgy Conference; 2011 September 5-7; Brisbane, Australia. Melbourne: Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy; 2011. p. 3-90.
6 Dominy S, O’Connor L, Parbhakar-Fox A, Glass H, Purevgerel S. Geometallurgy: a route to more resilient mine operations. Minerals. 2018;8(12):560-593.
7 Cordeiro PFO. Petrology and metallogeny of the primary niobium deposit of the carbonatitic-phoscoritic complex of Catalão I [dissertation]. Brasília: Universidade de Brasília; 2009.
8 Lumpkin GR, Ewing RC. Geochemical alteration of pyrochlore group minerals: pyrochlore subgroup. The American Mineralogist. 1995;80:732-743.
9 Grasso CB. Geology and geometallurgy of phosphate ores at the base of the barreiro mine weathering mantle, Araxá, MG [thesis]. Brasília: Universidade de Brasília; 2015.
10 Rangel LV, Correia VAN, Milanezi BP, Mazzinghy DB, Filho AHPM. Geometallurgical characterization of nelsonite bodies from Catalão I carbonatitic complex to find favorable process targets. In Proceedings of the 5th International Seminar of Geometallurgy – Geomet; 2018; Santiago, Chile. Santiago: Gecamin; 2018.
11 Rangel LV. Creation of a production and feed simulator from the phosphate and niobium plants in Catalão using geometallurgical information. In Proceedings of the 5th International Seminar of Geometallurgy - Geomet; 2018; Santiago, Chile. Santiago: Gecamin; 2018.