The process of removal of the gangue from Ore is known as Concentration or Dressing or Benefaction. There are numerous methods of concentration and the methods are chosen based on the properties of the ore.
This method concentrates the ore by passing it through an upward stream of water whereby all the lighter particles of gangue are separated from the heavier metal ore. This is a type of gravity separation.
This involves the use of magnetic properties of either the ore or the gangue to separate them. The ore is first ground to fine pieces and then passed on a conveyor belt passing over a magnetic roller. The magnetic ore remains on the belt and the gangue falls off the belt.
Froth Flotation Method:
This method is mainly used to remove gangue from sulphide ores. The ore is powdered and a suspension is created in water. To this are added, Collectors and Froth Stabilizers. Collectors (pine oils, fatty acids etc) increase the non-wettability of the metal part of the ore and allows it to form a froth. Froth Stabilizers (cresols, aniline etc) sustain the froth. The oil wets the metal and the water wets the gangue. Paddles and air constantly stir up the suspension to create the froth. This frothy metal is skimmed off the top and dried, to recover the metal.
Leaching is used when the ore is soluble in a solvent. The powdered ore is dissolved in a chemical, usually a strong solution of NaOH. The chemical solution dissolves the metal in the ore and it can be extracted and separated from the gangue by extracting the chemical solution. Extraction of the Aluminium metal from Bauxite ore is done using this process.
Most of the large structures you see around you today have metallurgy to thank for their existence. What we learned now is just the beginning in the extraction of metals.
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