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Magnetic skarn ore (MSO) is one of the major copper bearing ore extracted by the Ok Tedi Copper Mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Copper minerals are recovered by flotation while the iron not associated with copper are discarded as tailings. The objective of this investigation was to determine the iron ore reduction kinetics for the Ok Tedi MSO and ascertain if it can be processed to produce sponge iron for a mini steel plant in Papua New Guinea. SEM-EDAX analyses of the Ok Tedi MSO indicated 10.1% C, 30% O, 0.6% Mg, 1.1% Si, 21.1% S, 0.8% Ca and 36.2 % Fe. Most of the iron is in sulfide form. Both naturally occurring and roasted sinters of Ok Tedi MSO samples of different particle sizes were reduced by charcoal carbon at three different temperatures and seven different reduction times. Analyses of the reduced products indicated a metallic iron content of more than 65 wt. % on average. Results showed that there was no significant difference in reduction between fluxed and control materials. Only a slight increase in kinetics with reduced particle size, hence the reaction rate constant (K) did not vary much within the temperatures investigated. Reaction kinetics increases with increasing reduction time at 900°C. Therefore, more iron reduction is observed with particles of 106 µm size. In addition, the results also confirmed that the reduction energy used was higher at 800°C and lower at 1000°C. In conclusion, iron reduction can be improved but close monitoring of temperature and reduction times are essential to determine the reaction kinetics of the Ok Tedi MSO.
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