Researchers at IIT Madras and Kanpur devise a novel method to repurpose discarded iron ore waste, termed "slime," into reusable material via a microwave-based beneficiation process. Collaborating with NMDC and JSW Steel, the project addresses environmental concerns by transforming slime into iron-rich substances suitable for blast furnaces, saving energy and reducing emissions.
Researchers from IIT Madras and Kanpur have innovated a solution for repurposing waste produced during iron ore mining. The process focuses on "slime," waste particles smaller than 0.15 mm, often discarded during iron ore processing. Collaborating with NMDC and JSW Steel, the team developed a microwave-assisted beneficiation process to convert slime into iron-rich materials suitable for blast furnace charging.
The innovative process selectively interacts with iron oxides or carbon mix in the waste, omitting other impurities like silica, alumina, and phosphorus oxides. Additionally, it expedites material heating compared to conventional methods, drastically reducing energy consumption and emissions.
India faces challenges with slime, constituting 20-25% of the total iron ore feed, stored in vast ponds amid iron-bearing mountain ranges. This accumulated waste not only remains unproductive but also poses environmental threats and land damage. Presently, these slimes are partially exported as low-grade iron ore.
The success of this project led to the establishment of a dedicated high-temperature lab at IIT Madras, the Centre for Pyrometallurgy, equipped with IMPRINT INDIA-funded facilities. This center focuses on investigating high-temperature processes for large-scale lean quality fine iron ore processing in an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective manner.
Researchers emphasize the project's significance in developing technology for beneficiation of lean quality iron ores, potentially offering an energy-efficient, scalable solution. Their findings were published in a renowned peer-reviewed journal, marking a significant stride in iron ore waste management.
According to Vibuti Roshan from NMDC, the innovation demonstrates a cost-effective, energy-efficient approach that can be further expanded to benefit lean quality iron ores, potentially revolutionizing beneficiation technology.
The collaboration between IIT Madras, Kanpur, NMDC, and JSW Steel has yielded a breakthrough in reusing iron ore waste. Their innovative microwave-based process effectively transforms discarded "slime" into iron-rich material, offering an eco-friendly and energy-efficient solution. This development showcases promise for the beneficiation of low-grade iron ores and marks a significant step towards sustainable mining practices.