Characterization and feasible physical separation methods for Yxsjöberg historical tungsten ore tailings

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Keyword: Engineering and Technology, Teknik och teknologier, Materials Engineering, Metallurgy and Metallic Materials, Materialteknik, Metallurgi och metalliska material, Mineral Processing, Mineralteknik, Centrumbildning - Centrum för avancerad gruvteknik och metallurgi (CAMM), Centre - Centre for Advanced Mining & Metallurgy (CAMM)
Publication year: 2019
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructureSDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities
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Relatively high minerals and metals content characterize historical tailings due to less efficient extraction methods and/or relatively low metal prices at the time. Repositories of such tailings pose environmental risks but could also become metals and minerals resources. An example of such tailings is the Yxsjöberg historical tungsten ore tailings in the Smaltjärnen tailings repository in Sweden.   

The Smaltjärnen tailings repository was sampled by collecting drill core samples from different locations. The collected drill core samples were characterized physically (colour, texture, moisture content and particle size distribution) and chemically (elemental composition and distribution, and mineralogical composition). Feasible physical separation methods (magnetic and gravity separation) were pre-selected based on the tailings characteristics and the knowledge of processes from which the Yxsjöberg historical tailings were produced.

In this paper, results from three drill cores each representing a different location on the tailings repository are presented. The tailings mass distribution was high in the coarser particle size fractions of +300 µm and +149 µm.  Tungsten (W) and Copper (Cu) were the metals of interest with one location having higher concentrations than the other two at 0.20 %WO3 and 0.14 %Cu. Sulphur (S) was recovered in the magnetic fractions of the LIMS and HIMS. Using the Knelson concentrator, W recovery was enhanced. These results are fundamental in the development of methods for separation of minerals and extraction of metals of interest from the historical tailings in order to leave behind an inert and environmentally safe residue.


Jane Mulenshi

Luleå tekniska universitet; Mineralteknik och metallurgi
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Pourya Khavari

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Jan Rosenkranz

Luleå tekniska universitet; Mineralteknik och metallurgi
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