Mineral classification

1. Introduction

After initial liberation of a mineral constituent from its ore by crushing, grinding and screening, separation of minerals by size is normally attempted by a classifying process. In mineral processing operations, classification and separation of mixtures of fine and coarse particles and also of lighter and heavier particles may be performed in a wet or dry state. The majority of separations are carried out in a liquid environment because of an increased efficiency. The basic technique employed is to allow particles to settle under gravity in a liquid medium (usually water). The higher terminal velocity of irregular shaped, coarser, heavier particles allows these particles to reach the bottom of the vessel at a faster rate compared to particles that are smaller and lighter. Removing the settled particles while the others are still settling offers a simple means of a separation. For very small particles, such as clay or silt, whose size approaches colloidal dimensions, long times are required to settle and the small difference in settling rates of these fine particles leads to low separation efficiency. To accelerate the settling rate of these fine particles, centrifugal forces are employed such as in cyclones or hydrocyclones.
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