Untreated ore tailings may contain toxic substances such as heavy metals and chemicals, which can lead to soil and water contamination, affect ecosystems and pose risks to human health. Proper disposal of ore tailings reduces the environmental impact of mining activities. Additionally, untreated tailings may contain residual minerals of economic value. Therefore, valuable minerals can be recovered using effective ore tailings processing methods. Tailings reprocessing methods, such as thickening, filtration and slurry backfilling, help reduce the volume of tailings, facilitate their responsible disposal or reuse, optimize land use and reduce the physical footprint of mining activities. The following will introduce you to several common tailings reprocessing methods and the equipment used.
Use the table of contents below to navigate through the guide:
01Tailings reprocessing gravity separation method
The gravity separation method for tailings reprocessing mainly relies on the density difference between valuable minerals and tailings. Heavy minerals settle faster in water, thereby achieving separation of valuable minerals and tailings. The tailings gravity separation method is mainly suitable for recovering gold, tin and other minerals in the tailings. Commonly used gravity separation equipment include heavy media separation equipment, shakers, jigs and spiral chutes.
02Tailings reprocessing flotation separation method
When tailings are recycled by flotation, an appropriate combination of flotation agents needs to be added to the slurry to make the target minerals hydrophobic and attached to the bubbles, and collected as the bubbles rise to the surface of the slurry. Flotation technology is mainly used to recover copper, lead, zinc and other minerals from tailings. Commonly used flotation equipment mainly includes flotation machines and flotation columns. The working principle of a flotation machine is to introduce air into the slurry, causing the hydrophobic ore particles to attach to the bubbles and rise to the surface for recovery.
03Tailings reprocessing magnetic separation method
Magnetic separation technology mainly uses magnetic differences between minerals for separation. Magnetic separation can separate magnetic target minerals and non-magnetic tailings. This method is mainly used to recover iron minerals from tailings. Commonly used magnetic separation equipment mainly includes dry magnetic separator, wet magnetic separator, permanent magnet roller type strong magnetic separator, etc.
04Tailings reprocessing leaching and bioleaching methods
Tailings leaching is the use of chemicals such as acids or alkalis to dissolve valuable minerals in ore tailings. This leaching method is primarily used to recover metals such as copper, gold and uranium from tailings. Commonly used leaching equipment includes leaching tanks and stirrers. The leaching equipment promotes the chemical dissolution of target minerals in ore tailings through the use of leaching agents. Tailings bioleaching uses microorganisms to decompose and extract metals from ore tailings. Bioleaching is a relatively environmentally friendly method and is mainly used to recover copper, gold, etc. from tailings. Commonly used bioleaching equipment includes bioreactors and microbial cultures.
05Concentration, filtration and dehydration methods for tailings reprocessing
Tailings can be concentrated to remove excess water in the ore, making it easier to process the tailings. Tailings filtration separates solid particles from liquids. These processes often need to be used in conjunction with other methods to reduce the volume and moisture content of the tailings to facilitate their handling and storage. Commonly used methods for this type of method include thickeners, filter presses, filters, etc.
The above are several common tailings reprocessing methods. In actual production, there are other tailings treatment methods, such as slurry backfill. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of a specific ore tailings treatment method depends on a variety of factors, including the type of ore, minerals present, environmental considerations and economic feasibility. In different ore tailings treatment methods, the equipment used varies depending on the specific method used. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct mineral processing test analysis to determine a reasonable tailings treatment method, ensure the tailings recovery rate, make full use of ore resources, and ensure the economic benefits of mineral processing.