In this work, the alkali roasting of ilmenite
(FeTiO3) is presented as a process route for integrated beneficiation of the mineral for rutile-rich phase and rare earth oxides; the latter is released as a consequence of physical changes in the ilmenite matrix, during the water leaching after roasting. The oxidative alkali roasting transforms ilmenite mineral into water-insoluble alkali titanate and water-soluble ferrite. After roasting the insoluble alkali titanate is separated from rare-earth oxide mixture in colloidal form and water-soluble ferrite. Further leaching of alkali titanate is carried out with oxalic (0.3M) and ascorbic (0.01M) acid solution which removes the remaining Fe2+ ions into the leachate and allows precipitation of high-purity synthetic rutile containing more than 95% TiO2. Iron is removed as iron oxalate. The physico-chemical changes occurred during the roasting and leaching processes are reported by comparing the role of alkali on the roasting process and product morphologies formed.
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