Silicates - a New Challenge for Mineral Processing for LKAB in Kiruna, Sweden

Kari Niiranen, Andreas Böhm

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)


LKAB (Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB) is operating underground iron ore mine, with three beneficiation and pelletizing plants in Kiruna, Northern Sweden. The wet low intensity magnetic separation (WLIMS) is regarded as the crucial part of silicate mineral separation from the ore. The Kiirunavaara iron ore deposit shows a rather low content of silica (ca. 2.3 to 3.3 % SiO2) but the silica grade is expected to increase in the deeper parts of the deposit. This can be problematic in the case of DR pellet quality with an average silica grade under 0.75 % SiO2. A laboratory scale methodology was developed for the systematic characterization of the ore for mineral processing with the focus on silicates at the Institute of Mineral Processing, University of Leoben. This methodology is combining mineralogical, geochemical and process mineralogical characteristics. Automated mineralogy (QEMSCAN) was used to study the modal mineralogy, the distribution of silicate minerals in different particle size classes after comminution, the deportment of silicon (Si) between various silicates and degree of liberation and intergrowth of magnetite and silicates. Based on the mineralogical investigations, actinolite, phlogopite and even quartz and albite are the predominating SiO2 bearing minerals in the ore. The important result of the investigations was the discovery of two separate subtypes within the high silica ore type B2 based on their mineralogy and mineral processing characteristics. The crucial part of the investigations of intergrowths and liberation of magnetite results was the magnetic separation tests carried out with the Davis magnetic tube. The binary intergrowths of magnetite and the silicate minerals (mostly actinolite) are the most common type of mineral association discovered. The significant characteristics in the intergrowths of magnetite and actinolite are the fine-grained magnetite inclusions in actinolite which may end up increasing the SiO2 grade in the magnetite concentrate despite magnetic separation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the XXVIII International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC)
Place of PublicationQuebec
PublisherThe Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum Engineering
ISBN (Print)978-1-926872-29-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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