Concentration of iron in laterite soils


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Iron enrichment in laterites that contain titanium in Tharaka Nithi County, Kenya

Iron is the single element used in industries in larger quantities than all the other metallic elements combined.

This is because of the very wide applications of the metal in manufacture of machinery, vehicles and in building industry.

Whereas the element occurs in more than 80 minerals, only a small number is important as a source of iron.

However, even these must be concentrated to make them suitable for putting in a blast furnace.

Since methods used for concentration are expensive, the study was meant to investigate on a cheaper technique of obtaining iron from heated laterites/charcoal mixture.

In Kenya, laterites are currently being used mainly for surfacing roads.

This study set out to show that laterites can be converted to high quality iron ore which should make any developing country self-reliant in as far as supply of metallic iron and steel is concerned.

The area of study was chosen because some of the iron in this area is known to be present as the mineral ilmenite.

It was, therefore, of interest to find out whether the heat treatment that converts hematite to magnetite is adequate to decompose ilmenite, using the newly developed technique.

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