The Bureau of Mines investigated the concentration characteristics of high-clay sylvinite ores from potash companies operating in the Permian Basin near Carlsbad, New Mexico. These ores, containing 14 to 19 percent k2o and 3 to 5 percent clay slimes, cannot be effectively processed by current commercial flotation methods because of their high clay content. A solution to this problem was shown to be the use of two-stage moderate scrubbing conditions for clay disaggregation and removal as opposed to strenuous attritioning. Bench-scale beneficiation techniques for recovering potash minerals by flotation from the scrubbed material resulted in acceptable product grades and recoveries. By using a coarse grind, emphasis was placed on production of premium granular and coarse products. Flotation results showed that concentrates of 59.6 to 60.4 percent k2o values can be obtained. Continuous pilot plant beneficiation techniques for recovering potash minerals by flotation resulted in concentrates containing 58.8 to 59.8 percent k2o with recoveries of 69.7 to 81.4 percent of the k2o. Work done in cooperation with the University of Alabama.
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