Selective Flocculation of Iron Ore Slimes: Results of Successful Pilot Plant Trials at Tata Steel, Noamundi

  • Venugopal TammishettiEmail author
  • Dharmendr Kumar
  • Beena Rai
  • Pradip
  • Vishal Shukla
  • Abhay Shankar Patra
  • D. P. Chakraborty
  • Ashok Kumar
Technical Paper


A significant portion of currently mined iron ores, that is, 15–20% of run of mine ore, typically ends up as slimes—a slurry of fine particles (<45 micron) with relatively higher alumina contents (7–15% Al2O3). The only viable option currently is to dispose these slimes in tailing ponds for water recovery and future use. Due to increasing demand for steel and rapid consumption of high grade ores, processing and utilization of these slimes has become an urgent necessity. Traditional gravity and magnetic separation is not very effective in the ultrafine size range (less than 45 microns) and hence most of the flowsheets have a desliming step ahead of gravity and magnetic separation. Selective dispersion—flocculation is commercially proven technology to accomplish efficient separation in this size range, provided appropriate selective reagents are available. Our earlier work in TRDDC laboratories has demonstrated that selective flocculation with starch and guar gum is sufficiently selective for the reduction of alumina contents and thus this process should be scaled up for the processing of alumina rich Indian iron ore slimes. TRDDC has also designed a portable set-up which can be used to run pilot plant trials in a continuous mode onsite in the mines. The successful pilot plant trials of a selective flocculation separation process were completed by us at Noamundi mines recently. The results of these plant trials, using a portable pilot plant set up, designed by TRDDC, are summarized in this paper. The slimes sample for these plant trials, was withdrawn from one of the slimes stream at the Tata Steel’s iron ore beneficiation plant at Noamundi mines. Though there was considerable variation in the grade and pulp density of the slimes sample, it was possible to produce a concentrate of consistent quality in a continuous mode. It was for example demonstrated that one can produce a concentrate assaying 65.3% Fe and 2.5% alumina with a yield of 80.4% from a relatively richer grade slime sample containing 60.3% Fe and 4.8% alumina. More importantly, the corresponding tails contained less than 39.7% Fe. For a leaner grade slime sample assaying 53.4% Fe and 7.3% alumina, the corresponding concentrate grade was 63.5% Fe and 3.1% alumina, tailings grade 35.7% Fe and the yield achieved during the plant trials was 63.5%.


Iron ore slimes Selective flocculation Pilot plant set up Starch Guar gum 



The authors are thankful to Noamundi Processing team, Mr. Nirmal Bhattacharya, Head (Processing Plant), Mr. Ravi Trikhatri, and Mr. Ayan Majhi for their help and support in commissioning and running the pilot plant set up at Noamundi mines. The authors would also like to thank the Natural Resource Department team at Tata Steel and in particular, Mr Rajesh Mukherjee, Mr. Sudip Majumdar, Mr. Biplab Kumar Mahato and Ms. Pallavy Mariyam Varghese for their help in sample preparation and analysis during the trial period. The authors thank Mr. Sudam Konelu, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for his assistance in conducting these plant trials. The authors are grateful to Tata Steel Management for their constant help and support during the course of these plant trials on the beneficiation of iron ore slimes at Noamundi. The sustained help, encouragement and support received from Mr. K. Ananth Krishnan, Chief Technology Officer, TCS during the course of this work is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© The Indian Institute of Metals - IIM 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Engineering and Physical Sciences, TCS Research, Tata Research and Development Centre (TRDDC)Tata Consultancy ServicesPuneIndia
  2. 2.Tata SteelJamshedpurIndia

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