Technical and Economic Evaluation and Selection of Sulfate Ion Removal Technologies for Recovery of Water from Mineral Concentrate Transport Slurry

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This paper presents the findings of a comprehensive evaluation for a Primary Mineral Processing (PMP) company that contracted Battelle to identify economical technology to remove sulfate ion (SO4 2-) from mineral slurry transport (MST) water, now disposed of as a waste, for reuse or sale. MST water is separated from product by dewatering a sulfidic mineral concentrate slurry prior to loading and shipping of the solid product. The MST water sulfate ion concentration is between 400 and 1720 mg/L, below the high concentrations for which technologies such as lime precipitation, crystallization, and evaporation are favorable, and above low concentrations that are amenable to ion exchange technology, reuse, or release. In addition, the salt concentrations fluctuate significantly causing processing issues with a number of purification technologies. The technical target is to reduce sulfate levels to < 500 mg/L SO4 2- to allow water reuse, and especially to < 250 mg/L SO42- (drinking water requirements) to provide the broadest reuse
options. Based on company criteria of proven technology, operability, minimum residuals, and cost effectiveness in meeting the requirements for sulfate reduction, the two top-rated technologies recommended were ettringite production and precipitation using aluminum oxide, and electrochemical salt splitting.

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