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An overview of iron ore beneficiation challenges & opportunities

1. Introduction: India is a rich source of iron ores. Hematite, magnetite, limonite are the main forms of iron ores.The iron ore is an essential raw material for Iron & Steel Industry. The total resources are overthan 28.52 billion tonesof hematite (Fe2O3) and magnetite (Fe3O4). India is the leading producers and exporters of iron ore in the world. Now days the quality of the iron ores decrease day by day, so we have to improve our technology, increasing production, settle new beneficiation plants to produce more amount of steel for our development. The low grade of iron ores contains high amount of alumina (Al2O3) and silica (SiO2). The main problem is to extract the clay particles from the ores. According to IBM a plant cannot throw above 45% grade of iron ores due to environment effects. Thats makes new challenges for recovery of iron values from low grade of iron ores. Now a days a lot of new technology are adopting for the beneficiation of fine size particles of iron ores.The technologies are flotation cell, flotation column, enhance gravity separators etc. For lumpy ores the technologies are jigs, classifiers, spirals etc. Odisha is the leading producer iron ore, accounts for the country's 33% iron ore (hematite). Iron ore (hematite) are founds in Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Koraput, Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Sundergarh districts and magnetite in Mayurbhanj district in Odisha. Number of iron ore mines in 2009-2010 are 74 in Odisha. There are a number beneficiation plants established such as JSPL, ESSAR, BRPL, Essel mining, TATA steel etc. Now a days India producing 100mtpa of iron ores. Iron is the most important materials for making steel. The vision of 2020 is to produce 250mtpa of iron ores. We have the biggest source of iron ores compare to other countries. This is making a challenge to improve our technologies. In India the iron ore (hematite) is very soft in nature. It contain high amount of clay partials. The alumina (AL2O3) contain maximum is 7%. The low grade of iron means below 55% of Fe. Now a days the main problem in India is to separate the iron values from low grade of iron ores. The iron slime also contain above 55% of Fe and many areas the size is below 100 microns. The liberation of iron ore is not maximum in the slime.

2. Sources of iron ore Earth's most important iron ore deposits are found in sedimentary rocks. They formed from chemical reactions that combined iron and oxygen in marine and fresh waters. The two most important minerals in these deposits are iron oxides hematite (Fe2O3) and magnetite (Fe3O4). These iron ores are mining and use in every sector from automobile, construction, industries etc in form of steel and iron. Iron is the most abundant rock forming element and composes about 5 % of the Earth's Crust. Hematite is iron oxide (Fe2O3). Hematite deposits are mostly sedimentary in origin, such as the banded iron formations (BIFs). Banded iron formations contain hematite and magnetite. They are found throughout the world and are the most important iron ore in the world today. They formed by the chemical precipitation of iron from shallow seas about 1.8-1.6 billion years ago. (http://www.seabgems.com/Iron%20Ore.html) The first forms of life that developed in form of bacteria (blue-green algae). They didn't required oxygen, but converted carbon dioxide and water to sugars using sunlight; like todays plants. Oxygen was actually a waste product, so they excreted it. Conditions were ideal for them, so they multiplied rapidly, and had the oceans mostly to themselves for hundreds of millions of years. The oxygen they gave off reacted with the dissolved iron salts in the water and form iron hydroxides and iron oxides. These materials are insoluble, so they settled to the bottom. It took millions of years for the oxygen to react with all the dissolved iron, and very thick deposits formed. These are called banded iron formation. Over time, the large deposits of iron rich sediments were moved and changed because of the movements of the crustal plates. They formed large deposits of magnetite and hematite, which make up most of the world's iron ore deposits. That is why most iron ore deposits are found in ancient rock formations.

a. World iron ore scenario The major iron ore producing countries are Australia, China, Brazil, India, Russia, US, Canada etc. In the world 98% of iron ore used for making of steel. The characterizations of ores are different from countries to countries. Thats why the separation process adopted is different. Now a days China is producing more iron ores compare to other country about 1200 million metric ton for 2011. There are more than 50 countries who are producing Iron ore. Among them 5 countries are accounts for more than two-thirds of the total and 96% of this ore is produced by only 15 of those countries. In World the resources are estimated to exceed 800 billion tons of iron ore containing more than 230 billion tons of iron. Australia and Brazil are exports 60% of iron in the world. In 2011 India was in 4th rank in the world produced 240mtp, Australia produced 480mtp rank 2nd, Brazil produced 390mtp rank 3rd, Russia produced 100mtp rank 5th, South Africa and US Produced 55mtp, 54mtp bearing rank 7th and 8th, Canada produced 37mtp rank 9th in the world. The total production in 2011 was 2800mtp. (Wikipedia) Ukraine is the top country of iron ore reservation about 68 billion tons, Brazil has in second position about 62 billion tons, Russia have 56 billion tons, China is in fourth position 46 billion tons, Australia in 5th about 40 billion tons, India has sixth rank among all the countries about 28.52 billion tons, Kazakhstan has 19 billion tons and US has 15 billion tons. United States has great deposits are found in the Lake Superior region. (V K S Rathore and L N Matthur, NMDC LTD) b. Indian Iron ore scenario In India about 28.52 billion tonnes of Iron Ore available. Out of that 7 billion tonnes are proven reserves and balance 18 billion tonnes are probable and possible reserves. Out of that 14.63 billion tonnes are hematite and 10.62 billion tonnes are magnetite. Magnetite ore, 85% of the total reserves are in ecologically and environmentally sensitive in forest region. Hematite and magnetite are the most important iron ores in India. About 59% hematite ore deposits are found in the Eastern Sector of India. About 92% magnetite ore deposits occur in Southern Sector, in Karnataka. Indian iron ore (hematite) is superior because of its higher grade. The ore is within banded iron ore formations occurring as massive, laminated, friable and also in powdery form.