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Uranium ore beneficiation process (1st part)
Aug 14, 2018

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Uranium ore beneficiation is the process of separating, enriching and extracting uranium from uranium ore or uranium-bearing ore to obtain different forms of uranium products. The separation method of uranium ore mainly includes chemical beneficiation and physical beneficiation.


Uranium ore

There are more than 100 kinds of uranium minerals. The industrial-grade uranium minerals are mainly bituminous uranium ore, crystalline uranium ore, potassium vanadium uranium ore, silicon calcium uranium ore and titanium uranium ore and so on. The industrial types of uranium ore are: granite type, volcanic rock type, sandstone type, carbon-silica mudstone type, sedimentary rock type, quartz conglomerate type etc. The main producing areas of the world's uranium mines are Canada, the United States, the former Soviet Union, Australia, South Africa, Namibia, Niger and France.


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The separation methods of uranium ore include chemical beneficiation and physical beneficiation. Most uranium ore are usually not subjected to physical beneficiation, but is directly extracted by chemical ore processing. For individual uranium ore, it is sometimes calcined before leaching; roasting can improve the solubility of useful components or improve the physical properties of ore and increase the leaching rate of uranium. For uranium-containing polymetallic sulfide ore, generally select the mixed concentrate, and then separate it after leaching; or first float the single metal concentrate and then separately leaching. According to the nature of the product in the leaching tank, it extracts uranium by acid leaching or alkali leaching, or discarding a portion of the tailings after disposal. The uranium-containing iron-boron mine uses a magnetic separation-gravity separation-classification process to recover iron, uranium and boron respectively with a high recovery rate. The uranium concentrate containing 0.15% to 0.20% of uranium is leached with 10.5% acid, and the leaching rate is as high as 98.5%.


Chemical beneficiation

The conventional processing of uranium ore is to first leach uranium from the ore. The leaching of uranium ore includes acid leaching and alkali leaching. Acid leaching is suitable for silicate minerals with less acid-minding minerals; alkali leaching is suitable for uranium ore containing more carbonate minerals. In order to strengthen the leaching process, hot pressing leaching method is often used in the alkali leaching process; when the content of sulfide ore in uranium ore or ore dressing product is high, uranium is extracted by pressurized water immersion method; concentrated acid leaching is also one of the enhanced leaching methods. Heap leaching is suitable for the treatment of low-grade uranium ore or waste ore with good permeability and small ore plant far from the water and metallurgical plant.leaching (2).jpg


The acid leaching slurry is separated by solid-liquid separation or mud-sand separation, coarse sand washing, and then uranium is extracted and enriched from the clear liquid or slurry medium. For ore with low uranium grade, it is advisable to use clear liquid adsorption or slurry adsorption. The saturated resin is desorbed to obtain a qualified desorbent, and then chemically precipitated to obtain a chemical concentrate of uranium. For ore with a higher uranium grade, use clear liquid extraction or slurry extraction. After extraction, the uranium is back-extracted from the saturated organic ore to produce a nuclear-purified or high-purity uranium product. The leaching process of first adsorbing with a resin, desorbing the qualified liquid and then extracting is highly adaptable, and finally a nuclear pure product is obtained.


After the alkali leaching slurry is separated and washed by solid-liquid, a clear liquid is obtained. The chemical solution can be prepared by chemical precipitation method; the high-purity concentrate can be prepared by the supernatant adsorption and desorption liquid precipitation method; the nuclear pure product can also be obtained by using the quaternary ammonium extraction-back extraction crystallization process; or after acidification of sulfuric acid, it is processed according to the acid process. For the water smelting plant with both acid leaching and alkali leaching, it is suitable for the acid-base mixing process.

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