Processing of low grade tungsten ore concentrates by hydrometallurgical route with particular reference to India
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Tungsten, because of its high strength and high melting point occupies a prime position amongst metals. With depletion of high grade resources considerable R and D work is still being carried out in tungsten producing countries around the world for the processing of low grade and secondary resources. The paper gives a brief review of the hydrometallurgical processes developed to recover tungsten from low grade concentrates.
The R and D work carried out on purification and recovery of tungsten as tungstic oxide/ammonium paratungstate (APT) from a number of off-grade products such as table concentrate (WO3=66%, SiO2=2·2%, S=1·8%), middlings (18–20% WO3, and 28–30% S) and jig concentrate (4·6% WO3) are discussed in this paper. It has been found that more than 75% of silica and 90% of sulphur could be removed from the table concentrate by curing with hydrofluoric acid and subsequent roasting of the desilicated product at 650°C. In the case of middlings, it was possible to recover over 90% of tungsten as tungstic oxide by an oxidative roast followed by pressure leaching with soda.
A detailed study on the low grade jig concentrate to recover tungsten as APT, showed that over 90% extraction was possible by adopting the pressure leaching-solvent extraction route. Effect of parameters such as soda concentration, time, temperature and pressure during leaching; as well as extraction and stripping behaviour of tungsten from leach solution at different pH and aqueous to organic ratio during solvent extraction with Alamine-336, were studied and a flow-sheet was developed for processing of jig concentrate analysing 4·6% WO3.
KeywordsLow grade concentrate pressure leaching purification of concentrate and leach solution solvent extraction APT crystallization
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