Valorisation par flottation des minerais à faible teneur en uranium : étude de la texture et des effets synergiques des réactifs de flottation

Abstract : Due to the energy growing demand, uranium low grade ores may be those exploited in the future. Uranium ores conventional treatment doesn't often use mineral processing such as concentration methods for reducing leaching reagent consumption. The aim of this work is to develop an upgrading process to improve the operating process (alkaline heap leaching) taking into account the mineralogical and textural variability of the ore. The Trekkopje deposit is composed of calcrete and a gypscrete. The uranium bearing mineral is carnotite (K2 (UO2)2 [VO4]2.3H2O). The gangue minerals are composed by silicates, such as quartz, feldspars, micas and Ca-minerals, calcite and gypsum (XRD and ICP-MS analysis). A SEM image processing was used to study the textural properties and the exposed free surface of mineral inclusions in clay clusters. In calcrete milled to -200 µm, 50 % of all carnotite is associated with clay clusters, which are composed by 98 % of palygorskite, 2 % of illite, montmorillonite, and interbedded clays (XRD and microprobe analysis). The carnotite grain size is 95% less than 70 µm. Calcite is the main inclusion in clay clusters. Indeed, the calcite inclusions average rate in the clay clusters is 12 % and 5 % for carnotite inclusion. And the free exposed surface percentage of these minerals in clay clusters is 3 % and 6 %, thus indicating that the inclusions should not affect the behavior of mixed clay particles. However, ore flotation essays didn't verify this hypothesis. Three minerals separation have been proposed based on the mineral ability to consume leaching reagents: separating Ca-minerals from silicates, palygorskite from gangue minerals and carnotite from gangue minerals. A study of silicates and Ca-minerals electrokinetic properties (electrophoresis) was carried out to select the collectors and the optimum pH range for selective flotation. Basic pH near neutral was proved to be optimal for the separation of gangue minerals with cationic or anionic collectors (silicates IEP - pH 1-2, palygorskite IEP - pH 3, francolite IEP - pH 3-4 and IEP minerals calcium - pH 9 - 10). The adsorption isotherms of the primary amines with a nonionic reagent obtained by gay chromatography highlight their coadsorption on the silicates surface at pH 8. The presence of nonionic reagent allows to the formation of a compact layer on the mineral surface, derived from the displacement of the symmetric and asymmetric vibration groups CH2, CH3 of the infrared diffuse reflectance spectra. Palygorskite is separated from the pure Ca-minerals and silicates at pH 8, with a mixture of a primary amine and a nonionic reagent such as collectors, without using specific depressant. A clear separation of Ca-minerals and silicates is carried out at pH 8 by combining sodium oleate with aliphatic alcohols. The synergistic effects of ionic and nonionic reagents were highlighted with an ionic reagents consumption reduction by two to ten fold. The ore flotation tests have confirmed the results obtained in pure mineral flotation with anionic collectors. The removal of Ca-minerals (floated product containing 20 % of uranium), silicates (nonfloated product containing 80 % of uranium) using a combination of sodium oleate and an aliphatic alcohol is the separation by flotation chosen solution. This study led to exploitable results in solving the problem by coupling multi-scale approaches
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Agathe Duverger. Valorisation par flottation des minerais à faible teneur en uranium : étude de la texture et des effets synergiques des réactifs de flottation. Alimentation et Nutrition. Université de Lorraine, 2013. Français. ⟨NNT : 2013LORR0285⟩. ⟨tel-01750636⟩

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