Mineral processing technology for the separation of heavy minerals is well tried and tested. The main components for a heavy mineral sand operation are excavation equipment, wet and dry mills, laboratory and storage facilities.
20 to 40 acres will be developed annually and no blasting methods are used at the sites. No environmentally harmful chemicals are used in the process.
Initially, in order to access the mineral sands, the site is cleared of trees and vegetation, called “overburden”. The top soil is cleared and set aside to be used later during the reclamation process. These stockpiles act as safety berms around the perimeter of the mine site and provide additional sound buffers.
The material is transported by covered truck to the processing plant located near the city of Coos Bay. There, the minerals are separated in a two-stage process. The first stage uses water separation methods to separate the very dense minerals from non-mineralized sand. Flocculants, typical to the types used by municipal potable water suppliers, are the only chemicals used in the process. The flocculants are used to settle solids in the water that is then recycled and reused in the plant. Clean water is an essential part of the wet separation process.
The second stage uses electrostatic and magnetic separation methods to separate the mineral suite into individual industrial products. From there the minerals will be packaged and shipped via ship, barge, truck and train to local, U.S. and international markets.
After separation is complete, the non-mineralized sand, silt and clay are recombined and dewatered. This results in 40 to 70 percent of the original material extraction. The non-mineralized sand is then returned to the site, placed back into the ground and contoured. Once contoured, the overburden and topsoil (removed in the initial process) are returned. With the topsoil in place, the land will be contoured to a natural setting before reforestation.
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