|Monthly Tech-Tip |
Ilmenite is a black colored heavy ore of iron and titanium. It is closely related to rutile. Material of up to 15% iron and other contaminants (and therefore 85% titanium) is called rutile whereas material of over 15% is called ilmenite (in reality ilmenite can contain up to 40% iron). Rutile is considered an impure form of titanium whereas ilmenite is considered as FeTiO3. Major other contaminants are magnesium and manganese.
Ilmenite occurs both an veins, disseminated deposits, or large masses. Thus according to the type of deposit the processed mineral will contain other things (i.e. apatite, syenite, diorite). It is mined in Quebec, Norway, New York state, Virginia, Africa and Australia.
It is now common for ilmenite operations to combine mine, mill, and smelter. The raw ore (often a "sand") is upgraded at the mill to produce a higher-grade ilmenite, near pure rutile (and often a zircon "concentrate"). There are two process to produce pure TiO2 from ilmenite (sulfate & chloride). Since the TiO2 industry is geared toward these requirements, ceramic users end up with the same grade.
Illmenite at Wikipedia