Title page for ETD etd-11282005-113358

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Penberthy, Catharina Johanna
URN etd-11282005-113358
Document Title The effect of mineralogical variation in the UG2 chromitite on recovery of platinum-group elements
Degree PhD (Geology)
Department Geography, Geo-Informatics and Meteorology
Advisor Name Title
Prof S A De Waal Committee Chair
Prof R K W Merkle Committee Co-Chair
  • platinum-group flotation testing
  • platinum-group ore-dressing tesing
Date 2002-04-01
Availability unrestricted
Platinum-group elements (pGEs) are recovered from UG2 chromitite by milling and flotation. The mechanisms involved during beneficiation of this type of ore are still poorly understood, partly because of its complex nature. Image-analysis techniques were used to characterise the mineralogy ofUG2 chromitite from diverse geological environments, as well as the milling and flotation products derived from each of these ores.

Postmagmatic alteration ofUG2 chromitite has a profound effect on the mineralogy, chemistry and recovery characteristics of the UG2 chromitite. Relatively unaltered UG2 chromitite consists predominantly of chromite and primary silicates, mostly bronzite and plagioclase with minor phlogopite, and small amounts of secondary silicates such as talc and chlorite. Trace quantities of base-metal sulphides, predominantly pentlandite, pyrrhotite and chalcopyrite ą pyrite, generally occur at chromite-silicate grain boundaries. PGEs are present both as discrete PGE minerals, and, to a lesser extent, sub-microscopically in other phases, mostly palladium and rhodium in pentlandite.

The PGE mineral assemblage is characterised by sulphide minerals, mostly braggite, cooperite, nickeloan malanite and laurite, and is closely associated with the baseŽmetal sulphides. Recovery of PGE minerals is strongly dependent on the degree of liberation, with liberated PGE minerals and PGE minerals associated with liberated base-metal sulphides, the fastest-floating particles. PGE minerals report to flotation tailings predominantly as fine-grained inclusions in coarse silicate particles.

In places, the footwall rocks have been replaced by iron-rich ultrabasic pegmatoid. As a result of interaction with Fe- and Ti-rich fluids, the chromite grains in the UG2 chromitite have been enlarged due to sintering, and the PGE mineral assemblage replaced by one consisting predominantly of laurite, Pt-Fe alloy and other nonŽsulphide PGE minerals. The non-sulphide PGE mineral grains appear to be slower Žfloating than sulphide PGE minerals.

Low temperature hydrothermal alteration appears to have caused relatively widespread alteration of the UG2 chromitite in some areas, resulting in corrosion and redistribution of sulphide minerals, as well as the replacement of primary magmatic silicates by secondary silicates such as pumpellyite, epidote, prehnite, albite, talc, chlorite and quartz. Ore from such areas are characterised by a base-metal sulphide assemblage consisting predominantly of millerite, chalcopyrite, and pyrite. BaseŽmetal sulphide and PGE minerals occur in fine-grained intergrowths with silicates, resulting in poor liberation. In the samples investigated, composite particles were often faster-floating than expected, at least partly due to the presence of naturally floatable talc.

The effect of faulting on the mineralogy of the UG2 chromitite probably depends on distance from the fault zone, and possibly also timing of faulting, and can cause cataclasis of the ore. Where cataclasis occurred, broken mineral grains are cemented by secondary, hydrous silicates. Liberation of base-metal sulphides and PGE minerals are poor, and recoveries consequently very low.

It was demonstrated that reasonable estimates of total PGE+Au recovery can be made from the mineralogical characteristics ofUG2 chromitite ore. Based on the mineralogy of ore from a specific area, provision can be made for appropriate adjustments to metallurgical flowsheets.

Đ 2001, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Penberthy, CJ 2001, The effect of mineralogical variation in the UG2 chromitite on recovery of platinum-group elements, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-11282005-113358/ >


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