Our Impact

Characterization of Cleaved Baryte Surface-Interfaces and Computational Study of Interactions of Baryte Ore-based Middling Particles for enhanced Mineral liberation and Recovery

Thematic Area:

University: African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja.

Project Leader: Dr. David Oluwasegun Afolayan

Collaborating Partners: Professor Winston O. Soboyejo, Interim President, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, USA & Head, Wole Soboyejo Research Groups; Dr. Nelson Yaw Dzade, Head, Minerals and Materials Research Group, Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA ; D

Duration: 24 months

Project Overview


Baryte ore deposits contain barytes and other minerals such as sand, clay minerals, organic matter, water-soluble salts, and heavy metals. The ores must be crushed into smaller particles and processed in fluids (in water or through the air) to liberate, separate, and recover baryte minerals from others. Unfortunately, particle interactions, interfacial and surface reactions encourage clustering/agglomeration of particles of different minerals (different size and density), and make liberation, separation and recovery of baryte mineral challenging to achieve. These clusters of baryte locked with other minerals are called middling and must be dispersed to ensure each mineral is free to enhance mineral recovery and better separation and collection efficiency. Several physical and chemical methods have been developed to disperse middling particles and increase mineral recovery. However, there are many assumptions in the explanations of experimental data, and the molecular interactions and adsorption of mineral particles at baryte surfaces is not fully understood.

Project objective

In this study, the baryte ore middling will be examined at the atomic level to understand the molecular interactions among baryte mineral, the most dominant impurity minerals in the ores, and water. The surface-interface properties of barytes and the major baryte cleavage surfaces formed by mechanical crushing/grinding will be investigated. Mechanistic and experimental investigations will be combined in order to provide a complete scientific explanation of laboratory studies and observations, as well to develop novel and sustainable materials for baryte ore processing in the local/indigenous context. The use of molecular simulations such as molecular dynamics simulations, and density functional theory combined with material characterization tools and measurements will provide insights into the complex mineral reactions and baryte-mineral and baryte-water interactions.

Expected impact

The project will innovate new conditions for mineral processing for local processing of middling particles of bartye ore deposits in Nigeria. It will also facilitate knowledge transfer among researchers in mineral engineering, students, baryte miners in Nigeria and Sub-Sahara Africa.

For more information, please contact the Project Leader.