KOREA INSTITUTE OF GEOSCIENCE AND MINERAL RESOURCES
THE WORLD'S LEADING RESEARCH
INSTITUTE OF GEOSCIENCE
DEVELOPMENT OF ADVANCED FLOTATION TECHNOLOGY FOR SCHEELITE RECOVERY
The separation of scheelite from low-grade ore is a difficult issue in flotation, which is the common method of separation for this mineral. The main objective was, and remains, the selective flotation of scheelite from other calcium-containing minerals, such as calcite, fluorite and apatite. Most attempts have had limited success or are only applicable under specific conditions due to the similar surface properties of these minerals. Such plants normally operate at WO3 grades of 60% and recoveries of 70%.
We, the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM), have developed an advanced flotation technology to overcome the difficulties associated with separation, producing scheelite concentrates with WO3 grades of 70% and recoveries of 85% to secure economic feasibility more easily compared to ordinary flotation technologies.
The Almonty Korea Tungsten company (Almonty Industries) will commence construction of a high-capacity processing plant that can process 1.2 million tons of scheelite raw ore per annum based on this advanced flotation technology. This is planned for the Sangdong mine in Korea. This plant is estimated to produce 5,000 tons of scheelite concentrate per annum, which represents 25% of the world’s scheelite concentrate production.
We expect this plant to have the potential to become a major producer of tungsten and to improve the competitiveness of the Korean tungsten industry by utilizing the advanced flotation technology developed by KIGAM.
Fig. 1. Effect of the sequence of reagents on the WO3 grade and recovery in scheelite flotation: (A) pH regulator-depressant-collector-frother, and (B) depressant-pH regulator collector-frother.
Fig. 2. Effect of collector on the WO3 grade and recovery in scheelite flotation.
Fig. 3. Advanced scheelite recovery plant to be established in the near future.