Enhancing Dry Iron Ore Processing: Insights and Achievements in Triboelectric Separation for Sustainable Beneficiation of a Fine Brazilian Iron Ore

Christina Pölzl

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


This master's thesis investigates the potential of dry iron ore processing through electrostatic separation, emphasizing the beneficiation of two Brazilian iron ore samples. Experimental plans were designed for both samples ("Over air - classification" <150µm and "Ultrafines" <10µm), using a statistical approach (DoE) supported by the JMP software, thereby optimizing the process and ensuring reliable results. The primary objective was to generate high-quality iron ore concentrates using STET's triboelectric separator, serving as an alternative or complement to New Steel's existing process. This currently employed method relies on dry magnetic separation and excludes the processing of the fine fraction (<10µm). The company's electrostatic separator exploits differences in electrical conductivity and electrostatic properties and is specially designed for processing these fine materials. Employing rougher, cleaner, and scavenger circuits within production runs in both project parts led to satisfactory outcomes, meeting the desired quality standards. For the "Over air - classification" sample, starting with an iron content of approximately 40%, STET's approach eliminated the need for secondary air classification, including the otherwise removed fine fraction, and achieved iron contents between 59.5 and 62.4%. Regarding the second sample, referred to as "Ultrafines", with an initial iron content of about 45%, the applied method raised the iron content to a range between 51.5 and 60.6% with different recovery rates. The application of electrostatic separation for this material represents a significant development in the iron ore industry. It addresses water scarcity concerns and environmental issues associated with chemical contamination in wastewater and dam failures linked to tailing ponds. Consequently, it provides a possible alternative to water-intensive methods such as flotation and wet magnetic separation currently prevalent in iron ore processing. However, it is important to note that in terms of throughput, it may not match the efficiency of these wet processes. In summary, this research underscores the potential of triboelectric separation for the iron ore industry, particularly for fine materials. While challenges persist, promising results suggest the possibility of enhancing the process's quality and efficiency, positioning it as a valuable alternative within the industry.
Translated title of the contributionOptimierung der trockenen Eisenerzaufbereitung: Einblicke und Erfolge bei der triboelektrischen Trennung für eine nachhaltige Aufbereitung eines feinen brasilianischen Eisenerzes
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Montanuniversität
  • Flachberger, Helmut, Supervisor (internal)
Award date15 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

no embargo


  • Electrostatic Separation
  • Design of Experiments
  • Triboelectric Charging
  • Dry Iron Ore Processing
  • Iron Ore
  • Mineral Processing
  • Triboelectric Separation

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