Extraction of potash values from pyrophyllite mine waste

<p>A waste sample generated during the mining of pyrophyllite ore is characterized for the extraction of potash values. Mineral liberation analysis (MLA) reveals that the waste material consists of muscovite, K-Feldspar (orthoclase), and pyrophyllite as the major mineral phases. The sample contains 49.5% SiO<sub>2,</sub> 23.9% Al<sub>2</sub>O<sub>3,</sub> 1.8% Fe<sub>2</sub>O<sub>3</sub>, and 9.8% K<sub>2</sub>O as its prime constituents. An effort has been made for the extraction of potash value by physical and chemical beneficiation techniques. Beneficiation studies using magnetic separation, froth flotation, and even chemical leaching with inorganic acids could not extract any appreciable potash values. Finally, a roast leach method using calcium chloride followed by leaching in water has been employed. The process variables such as calcium chloride dosage, roasting time, and temperature are optimized using L9 Taguchi statistical design. It has been possible to achieve about 85% potash values at 900°C, 45 minutes of roasting time and calcium chloride dosage of 75% with respect to the ore. The change in mineral phases in the feed, roast, and leached residue has been characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX), which shows the phase conversion into wollastonite and halite potassian.</p>