Concentration of K-feldspar from a pegmatitic feldspar ore by flotation
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Abundant reserves of Na-feldspar (albite) and K-feldspar (orthoclase or microcline) are found in granites, syenite, tracite and pegmatites. As both feldspar minerals have similar chemical structure and physicochemical properties, their separation is challenging. Flotation is known to be the only technique to enable their separation. The fundamentals on the separation of these minerals were well documented in our earlier studies. In this study, a pegmatite ore with a K2O/Na2O (3.78:3.37) ratio of 1.12 was studied in a Denver flotation cell both at natural and acidic pH using HF and H2SO4. Because of the perthitic structure of the ore no significant separation is observed at natural pH. Interestingly, a selective separation was achieved at low pH using HF and H2SO4 (pH 2.5-2.8). The selectivity is induced by the addition of Na+ ions through depression of albite. Selective separation has been carried out by stagewise flotation using the tree technique. Accordingly, a pegmatite ore composed of 3.37% Na2O and 3.78% K2O is upgraded to 10.51% K2O and 3.02% Na2O with a K2O/Na2O=3.48 in HF medium and to 2.55 in H2SO4 medium. It is shown that products recovered in other stages are also considered as commercially significant. Especially, quartz, which is recovered in the tailings in HF medium, is suitable for glass industry. The overall results show that commercial utilization of these results is possible.