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Results of ZIA’s project investigating the impact of metamictization on zircon milling are published. The peer-reviewed paper “Understanding the effect of metamictization on the efficiency of zircon milling” was accepted by Elsevier’s Minerals Engineering journal. The research was completed at Birmingham University (UK) with the support of ZIA’s Technical Committee and those members who generously provided zircon samples.
Metamictization is the natural process by which the crystal structure of a mineral is destroyed over time by alpha radiation. The aims of the project were to develop a classification of zircons based on metamictization level, and to assess the relationship between metamictization and milling performance. Samples with low levels of metamictization were found to achieve a marginally smaller particle size compared to samples with high levels of metamictization. The results also reveal a poorer overall dry milling efficiency for high metamict samples, which could impact energy consumption, product quality, and require further processing of zircon with a high level of metamictization.
ZIA’s Dr Keven Harlow commented, “This research by the zircon industry creates a novel link between the dry milling behaviour and the level of zircon metamictization. Results and knowledge gained from this work are relevant to both zircon millers and zircon producers, and should encourage further studies in this area.”