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Applied Clay Science 24 (2003) 93 103

www.elsevier.com/locate/clay

Characterization, beneficiation and utilization of a


kaolinite clay from Assam, India
N.J. Saikia, D.J. Bharali, P. Sengupta, D. Bordoloi, R.L. Goswamee,
P.C. Saikia, P.C. Borthakur *
Regional Research Laboratory (CSIR), Jorhat-785 006, Assam, India
Received 21 August 2002; received in revised form 31 March 2003; accepted 21 May 2003

Abstract
Kaolin available in Deopani, Assam of northeastern region of India was characterized by FTIR, XRD, DTA and by wet
chemical analysis methods. The major impurities in the clay are quartz and siderite. Wet sieving of the clay by  53-Am sieve
removes almost all the quartz and a major amount of Fe bearing impurities. The iron content of the clay may be reduced further
by treating with wet high intensity magnetic separator (WHIMS) or leaching with organic acids. The effectiveness of various
leachants follows the order: Oxalic>Oxalic + EDTA>Malonic>Citric acid. Almost all the nonstructural iron may be removed at
room temperature by using 0.4 M oxalic acid solution. The leached clay may find use as a ceramic raw material and filler
material for paper and other materials.
D 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Kaolinite; Clay; Beneficiation; Iron leaching; Oxalic acids; Ceramic clay; Paper filler

1. Introduction
Kaolinitic clay is a versatile industrial mineral. The
oldest known use of the clay is as a ceramic raw
material. Presently, the clay also finds application as a
coating and filler pigment for paper, as a filler for
paint, rubber, insecticide, formulation of medicine,
cosmetics, etc. The main characteristic, which determines the utility of the clay for various applications, is
its purity. Pure kaolinite (Al2O32SiO22H2O) is white
in colour and its chemical composition is 46.54%
SiO2, 39.50% Al2O3 and 13.96% H2O (Grimshaw,

* Corresponding author. Fax: +91-376-2370011.


E-mail address: pcborthakur@yahoo.com (P.C. Borthakur).
0169-1317/$ - see front matter D 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/S0169-1317(03)00151-0

1971). Presence of impurities, particularly iron- and


titanium-bearing materials, imparts colour to kaolin.
The mined kaolin is usually associated with various
impurities like quartz, anatase, rutile, pyrite, siderite,
feldspar, etc., depending on the origin and depositional environment (Grimshaw, 1971). These impurities
impair the characteristics of a kaolin and effect its
utility for various end applications.
Iron usually exists as iron oxides or hydroxides and
occasionally as pyrite, siderite, illeminite or as a minor
component in mica, etc. Iron may also substitute for
aluminium in the kaolinite structure (Malden and
Meads, 1967). The nonstructural Fe in iron-stained
kaolin generally exists as a fine coating of goethite,
noncrystalline gel on kaolinite plates, etc. (Amarascriwardena et al., 1986; Hogg et al., 1975; Jefferson et

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N.J. Saikia et al. / Applied Clay Science 24 (2003) 93103

Fig. 1. Kaolinized area of Deopani.

N.J. Saikia et al. / Applied Clay Science 24 (2003) 93103

al., 1975). Some iron-bearing minerals present in clay


have magnetic or paramagnetic properties.
The mined kaolin is processed by adopting various
physical and chemical processes like sieving, magnetic
separation (Shoumkov et al., 1987), selective flocculation (Farhount, 1989), etc. Application of ultrasound
(Komskaja et al., 1971), leaching with various chemicals like oxalic and other organic acids (Veglio et al.,
1996; Ambikadevi and Lalithambika, 2000), organic
acids in presence of a fermented medium (de Mesquita
et al., 1996), lixiviant containing microbially produced
oxalic and hydrochloric acid (Groudev, 1999), carbohydrates (Veglio and Toro, 1994), EDTA (Borggaard,
1979), sodium dithionate H2SO4 mixtures (Conley
and Lloyd, 1970; Ambikadevi and Gopalakrishna,
1997), etc., dissolves some iron-bearing phases to
lower the iron content of the clay.
Kaolin has been located in many places in northeastern region of India. Deopani in Karbi Anglong
district of Assam (India) is endowed with a deposit of
about 1.0 million tonnes of workable kaolinite (Fig. 1).
The clay is not yet exploited. It is associated with some
iron-bearing, black-coloured materials, which limit the
utility of the clay. Systematic investigation on characterization and beneficiation of the clay for various
applications are necessary for its exploitation. The
present communication reports the characteristics of
the clay from the deposit and highlights the possibility
of beneficiating it for various applications by adopting
the known methods like size separation, magnetic
separation and leaching with organic acids.

2. Materials and methods


The clay was collected from the exposed faces of the
Deopani deposit situated at 26j14V27U to 26j14V39U
latitudes, 93j45V54U to 93j46V05U longitude by State
Directorate of Geology and Mining, Government of
Assam. Representative clay sample was made by
following Indian standard method of mixing (Indian
Standard Specification, IS: 2840, 1965).
The clay is slaking in nature. It was suspended in
water (1:5 clay to water ratio) and slurried by stirring
with an electrical stirrer (f 270 rpm) without adding
any dispersant or adjusting the pH (slurry pH
6.5 F 0.5) and the  53-Am fraction was separated
from the slurry by wet sieving. The  53-Am fraction

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(3.5 kg) was further slurried in water (15 18% solid)


and subjected to wet high intensity magnetic separator
(WHIMS), (magnetic field intensity 1.3 T) under
regulated flow rate of the pulp (f 1 l/min), employing
Eriz lab model separator (canister size 23  5.1  2.6
cm) and steel wool matrix.
In separate experiments, the  53-Am fraction was
slurried in water (10% clay) and subjected to leaching
with equimolar solutions of citric, malonic, oxalic and
oxalic + EDTA under identical conditions. The leaching was done under stirring at room temperature (f 30
jC) using an electrical stirrer at low stirring conditions
(for 1 h) and at high stirring conditions (for 1 and 12 h)
in a Hamilton beach mixer (Model 936-31S-1). The
leached clay samples were separated and washed
several times with distilled water by sedimentation
and decantation method. The washed clay was again
slurried in water (10% solid) and dispersed by gradually increasing the pH of the slurry up to f 9.0 by using
sodium silicate. The dispersed clay was then separated
into different size fractions by adopting dispersion cum
settling method and using Stocks law. A cylindrical
column of diameter 7.90 cm was used for settling the
clay. The suspension was withdrawn from the specified
depth after elapse of the calculated time for each
fraction. The separated fractions were dried at
100 F 10 jC. The procedure adopted for recovering
different size fraction of clay from the crude clay along
with their yields are shown schematically in Fig. 2.
Oxalic acid was found to be the most effective
leachant and hence the effect of this leachant on iron
removal from the clay was investigated under varied
acid concentrations and stirring conditions. The investigation was also carried out with the nonmagnetic
fraction obtained after WHIMS treatment.
The bulk clay, the black materials associated with
the clay and the clay recovered by following different
procedures were characterized by using different
techniques; chemical constituents by wet chemical
and XRF analyses; mineralogical composition by
XRD analysis of random powder samples (Jeol Xray diffractometer, model ZDX-11P3A, using Cu Ka
radiation), FTIR analysis (Perkin Elmer System 2000
FTIR spectrometer using KBr pellet method), Thermal analysis (computerized TA instrument, model
STD 2964 simultaneous DTA TGA) under dynamic
conditions in air atmosphere using a-Al2O3 as the
reference material and particle size analysis (laser

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N.J. Saikia et al. / Applied Clay Science 24 (2003) 93103

Fig. 2. Scheme for recovering various fractions of clay with yield.

particle size analyser, model Cilas 1180). The water of


plasticity and other ceramic properties, and the acid
and water-soluble materials of the clay were determined by following Indian standard methods (Indian
standard, IS: 2840, 1965). The brightness (ISO) of the
samples was determined by using a digital brightness
meter (Technibrite type; make Feronics, India).

3. Results and discussions


3.1. Characterization of the clay
The chemical analyses of the crude clay sample, its
 53 Am, some other fractions obtained by processing

the clay and the black materials associated with the


clay are presented in Table 1. The FTIR patterns of the
crude clay, black materials, magnetic fractions and the
 53-Am fraction of the clay are shown in Fig. 3. The
thermal analysis curves (DTA, TG, DTG) of some of
the materials are shown in Fig. 4.
The crude clay is rich in SiO2 ( f 58.5%) and
Fe2O3 (9.48%) and poor in Al2O3 ( f 19%). Its loss
on ignition (LOI) value is low (11.84%). The chemical composition indicates presence of considerable
amounts of silica- and iron-bearing impurities in the
clay. The FTIR spectrum of the crude clay shows
peaks at 3694, 3621, 3654, 1106, 1020, 918 and 794
cm 1, characteristics of kaolinite (Table 2). A shoulder at f 1160 cm 1 indicates presence of quartz. A

N.J. Saikia et al. / Applied Clay Science 24 (2003) 93103

97

Table 1
Oxide composition (%) of Deopani kaolin and its beneficiated products
Sample

SiO2

Al2O3

Fe2O3

TiO2

CaO

MgO

SO24 

LOI

Crude clay
 53 Am fraction
Black material
 53 Am, nonmagnetic
 53 Am, magnetic
A
B

58.44
47.20
27.47
45.04
23.92
45.15
45.35

19.11
35.75
5.04
38.67
33.50
38.45
38.31

9.48
2.86
47.32
1.10
20.94
1.17
1.01

0.90
8.54
0.70
8.13
0.66
0.57

0.54
0.17

0.38

7.11

10.98
12.23
5.12
12.65
11.05
13.45
13.75

(A and B) Oxalic acid-treated (0.2 and 0.4 M wrt. iron content) fine fraction.

weak band at around 1430 cm 1 indicates presence of


carbonate bearing minerals in the sample. The DTA
pattern of the crude clay (Fig. 4) exhibits characteristic endothermic and exothermic peaks of kaolinite at

Fig. 3. FTIR spectra of kaolin. (A) Crude clay. (B) Black materials.
(C) Magnetic fraction of  53-Am fraction. (D)  53-Am fraction.

515 and 992 jC, respectively. These peaks are however very weak indicating presence of large amount of
impurities in the clay. The pattern also shows a weak
endothermic inflexion at 433.5 jC accompanied by a
weight loss peak in the DTG curve, suggesting
presence of small amount of other types of minerals
in the clay sample. The XRD pattern of the crude clay
(figures not shown) shows sharp peaks at d = 7.14,
due to kaolinite and
4.35, 3.57, 2.28, 1.67 and 1.54 A

at d = 3.34, 4.25 A due to quartz, indicating that the


later is the major contaminant of the clay. The pattern
,
also exhibits two weak bands at d = 2.79, 1.73 A
indicating siderite as the major iron-bearing impurities

Fig. 4. Thermoanalytical curves of kaolin: crude clay ();  53-Am


fraction (- - -); black materials (--). (A) TG and DTG curves. (B)
DTA curves.

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N.J. Saikia et al. / Applied Clay Science 24 (2003) 93103

Table 2
FTIR band assignments of Deopani kaolin and its beneficiated
products
Assignments


OH vibration
CO3 vibration
mas, Si O Si
m, Si O
Al...O H
ms, Si O Si
m, Si O
AlVI O Si
Si O

Band (cm 1)
3694, 3653, 3620
1400 (b)
1110
1033, 1007
937, 916
794, 754
694
538
469, 428

and
of the clay, weak peaks at d = 9.83, 3.19 A
due to the presence of
at d = 2.68, 2.49 and 4.16 A
small amounts of mica and goethite and/or hematite,
respectively.
The black material is rich in Fe2O3 ( f 47.32%),
SiO2 (27.47%), Al2O3 (5.04%). Besides, it contains
CO32  and SO42 , etc. The FTIR spectrum of the
black material exhibits a strong band at 1420 cm 1
and another two weak bands at 865 and 736 cm 1
(Fig. 3). The intensities of these bands decrease on
acid treatment, indicating the bands due to carbonatebearing minerals. The DTA pattern of the black
material (Fig. 4) exhibits weak endothermic peaks at
568 and 530 jC due to quartz and siderite and
exothermic peaks at 444 and 485 jC due to pyrite
and carbonaceous materials, respectively. The XRD
pattern of the material (figure not shown) shows
prominent peaks due to quartz (d = 3.34, 2.28, 2.13,
) and siderite (d = 2.79, 1.74, 1.73 A
) and weak
1.38 A
),
peaks due to disordered kaolinite (d = 7.11, 3.54 A
) and mica
goethite and/or hematite (d = 4.18 A
).
(d = 9.83 A
3.2. Beneficiation of the clay
Fig. 2 reveals that the  53-Am fraction separated
by wet sieving constitute about 50% of the crude clay
and 97% of the  53-Am fraction may be obtained as
a nonmagnetic fraction by WHIMS treatment. The
 53-Am and the nonmagnetic fraction on acid leaching followed by fractionation by dispersion cum
settling method generates about 45 49% fine fraction
( < 4 Am).
The SiO2 (47.20%) and Fe2O3 (2.86%) contents of
the  53-Am fraction are considerably less and Al2O3

(35.75%) content and LOI value (12.23%) are more


than that of the crude clay (Table 1). The LOI value
suggests presence of 87.61% kaolinite in the  53Am fraction. The FTIR analysis of this fraction (Fig.
3) does not exhibit any peak due to carbonate. The
intensity of the band found in the crude clay at 794
cm 1 decreases and a new band at 754 cm 1 appears
in the  53-Am fraction. The spectral region between
800 and 750 cm 1 is very sensitive against the
crystallinity and the purity of the kaolinite mineral.
Pure kaolinite exhibits two peaks (795 and 754
cm 1) in this region. The XRD pattern of the
 53-Am fraction exhibits strong peaks for kaolinite
with disappearance of peaks due to quartz and siderite. The DTA curve of the fraction (Fig. 4) shows
strong endothermic peak at 512 jC due to dehydroxylation and at 990 jC due to the formation of new
solid phase. Wet sieving, therefore, removes almost
all the quartz and major amount of the iron bearing
impurities from the clay. The Fe2O3 content of this
fraction is still high for use of the clay for ceramic and
other purposes.
The chemical analyses of the nonmagnetic and
magnetic fractions separated by WHIMS treatment
of the  53-Am fraction clay are also presented in
Table 1. Results show that the Fe2O3 and TiO2
contents of the  53-Am fraction can be reduced from
2.86% to 1.10% and 0.89% to 0.70%, respectively, by
using WHIMS. The FTIR (Fig. 3) pattern of the
magnetic fraction indicates sharp peaks due to carbonate-bearing materials. Magnetic treatment, therefore, removes most of the FeCO3 present in the  53Am fraction of the clay.
The effects of different organic acids on iron
content of the fine fractions separated from the
 53-Am fraction are shown in Table 3. Oxalic acid
is found to be the most effective leachant. The order
of effectiveness of the leachants is: Oxalic f Oxalic +
EDTA>Malonic>Citric acid. The better results
obtained with oxalic acid treatment is attributed to
its acidity, reducing capacity and complexing effect
(Baumgartener et al., 1983; Torres et al., 1990;
Ambikadevi and Lalithambika, 2000). However, use
of additional complexing agent (EDTA) along with
oxalic acid does not improve iron removal from the
clay.
The effect of shearing rate and time during the
treatment of the clay suspension with 0.0, 0.2 and 0.4

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99

Table 3
Iron content in the beneficiated clay (fine fraction) after treatment
with different leachants
Leachants

Fe2O3 content
(%)

Oxalic acid
Citric acid
Malonic acid
Oxalic + EDTA

1.00
1.30
1.25
1.04

M oxalic acid are shown in Table 4. The iron content


of the clay decreases with decrease of fineness of the
clay and increase of shearing rate and time.
The effect of concentration of oxalic acid on
removal of iron from different clay fractions is shown
in Fig. 5. The order of iron removal from the three
size fraction is: fine>medium>coarse. The trend of
iron removal from different size fractions of the clay
with acid concentration is almost identical; it sharply
increases up to 0.4 M addition of oxalic acid and
thereafter becomes extremely slow. This suggests that
the clay contains two types of iron. Some are easily
soluble in acid, which may be referred as the free iron
or nonstructural iron (less acid resistant). The remaining quantity can be structural iron and/or impurities,
which are more resistant to acid and can be removed
only to a small extent with increasing amount of
oxalic acid addition. Many earlier workers also observed the same trend of iron removal from kaolin and
other iron-bearing materials by acid leaching (Herbillon et al., 1976; Bahranowski et al., 1993; Fysh et al.,

Fig. 5. Removal of Fe from kaolin wrt. oxalic acid concentration:


fine fraction (-o-); medium fraction (-4-) and coarse fraction (-5-).

1983). Results presented in Table 4 show that it is


possible to bring down the Fe2O3 content of the fine
fraction of the clay to a level of about 1% even at
room temperature by using appropriate oxalic acid
concentration, shearing rate and time.
FTIR spectra of the coarse, medium and fine
fractions obtained after oxalic acid leaching are shown
in Fig. 6. It appears that the peaks in the 3600 3700

Table 4
Effect of shearing rates, times and oxalic acid concentration on removal of iron from Deopani kaolin and its nonmagnetic fraction
Acid concentration
(Fe2O3:oxalic acid) (M)

Shearing
rate

Shearing
time (h)

Iron content (removal) (%)


Coarse

Medium

Fine

1.0:0.0
1.0:0.2
1.0:0.4
1.0:0.0
1.0:0.2
1.0:0.4
1.0:0.0
1.0:0.2
1.0:0.4
1.0:0.2a
1.0:0.4a

Low
Low
Low
High
High
High
High
High
High
High
High

1
1
1
1
1
1
12
12
12
12
12

3.63
3.48
3.34
3.38
2.75
2.61
3.37
2.66
2.60
1.69
1.64

2.60
2.32
2.27
2.52
1.85
1.77
2.64
1.64
1.53
1.59
1.49

2.52
2.12
1.60
2.21
1.31
1.23
2.17
1.17
1.00
1.03
1.00

(0)
(4.13)
(7.99)
(0)
(18.64)
(22.78)
(0)
(21.07)
(22.85)

(0)
(10.77)
(12.69)
(0)
(26.59)
(29.76)
(0)
(37.88)
(43.04)

(0)
(15.87)
(36.51)
(0)
(40.72)
(44.34)
(0)
(46.08)
(53.46)

Coarse =  53, + 10 Am fraction. Medium =  10, + 4 Am fraction. Fine =  4 Am fraction. Shearing rate: low: f 270 rpm, high: f 14,000 rpm.
a
Nonmagnetic fraction.

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N.J. Saikia et al. / Applied Clay Science 24 (2003) 93103


Table 5
Particle size analysis of processed Deopani kaolin
Sample

Particle size (Am)


 45

 20

 10  2

 53 Am fraction
98.57 88.66 70.77
 53 Am, nonmagnetic fraction
98.03 85.81 67.83
Oxalic acid leached fine fraction
100.00 100.00 99.73
Oxalic acid leached medium fraction 100.00 97.47 77.81
Oxalic acid leached coarse fraction
98.93 62.41 31.21

Fig. 6. FTIR spectra of leached kaolin. (A) Fine fraction. (B)


Medium fraction. (C) Coarse fraction.

27.87
27.23
79.32
16.74
6.20

and 750 800 cm 1 regions change with the size of


the particles. In general, a well-crystallised kaolinite
exhibits two bands at 3669 and 3652 cm 1. The acidtreated clay samples, however, exhibit only one band
at 3653 cm 1, indicating that the kaolinite is weakly
crystalline in nature (Russell and Fraser, 1994). The
thermal analyses curves (DTA, TG and DTG) of the
three beneficiated fractions are shown in Fig. 7. The
shape of the endotherm in the region 423 667 jC,
due to dehydroxylation of kaolinite, is found to
change with fineness of the particles. The fine fraction
exhibits a smooth and sharp endotherm. The coarse
fraction shows an exothermic inflexion at f 500 jC,
which may be due to the presence of impurities in this
fraction (cf. Fig. 4, exothermic peak at 485 jC in the
DTA of black material). This indicates that the fine
and medium fractions obtained by the procedure
adopted are free of impurities.
3.3. Technological properties
The particle size analysis of the  53-Am fraction
of the clay (Table 5) indicates that it contains 70.77%
Table 6
Effect of oxalic acid concentrations on brightness of Deopani kaolin
Acid conc.
(Fe2O3:oxalic acid)
(M)

Fractiona

Brightness
(ISO) (%)

1.0:0.0

coarse
medium
fine
coarse
medium
fine
coarse
medium
fine

66.6
73.1
80.0
72.0
78.9
85.0
73.0
79.5
87.0

1.0:0.2

1.0:0.4
Fig. 7. Thermoanalytical curves of leached kaolin: () fine
fraction; (- - -) medium fraction and (--) coarse fraction.

Parent sample:  53-Am fraction.

N.J. Saikia et al. / Applied Clay Science 24 (2003) 93103

101

Table 7
Technical properties of processed Deopani kaolin for utilization as a ceramic raw materials
Characteristics

Fineness ( + 44 Am in %)
Loss on ignition (% by wt)
Al2O3 content (% by wt)
Fe2O3 content (% by wt)
TiO2 content (% by wt)
Fe2O3 + TiO2 content (% by wt)
Water of plasticity (%)
Shrinkage
Dry shrinkage (%)
Fired shrinkage (%)
Particle size distribution (%, max)
>25 Am
>10 Am
< 2 Am (min)
Fired characteristics at 1350 jC
Colour

Ceramic (IS: 2840, 1965)

Deopani kaolin

Grade I

Grade II

Grade III

0.5 (max)
13.0 (min)
37.0 (min)
0.8 (max)
0.7 (max)
1.5 (max)
32 (min)

1 (max)
12 (min)
34.0 (min)
1.0 (max)
0.8 (max)
1.8 (max)
35 (min)

2 (max)
10.5 (min)
32.0 (min)
1.5 (max)
1.0 (max)
2.5 (max)
38 (min)

0.44
12.23
35.50
1.70
0.90
2.60
31.20

0
13.75
38.31
1.00
0.57
1.57
36.50

1.20
12.65
38.67
1.10
0.70
1.80
32.30

6 (max)
16 (max)

7 (max)
17 (max)

8 (max)
18 (max)

3.50
14.50

1.80
13.40

2.50
13.50

7.31
29.23
27.87
Black spot
Cream

0
0.27
79.32
meet
white

9.83
32.17
27.23
meet
white

5
7
10
15
20
25
70
65
60
Should be free from black specks/spot and cracks.
Pink
white
white

(A)  53 Am fraction. (B) Oxalic acid-treated (0.4 M wrt. iron content) fine fraction. (C)  53 Am fraction (nonmagnetic).

particles in the < 10-Am and 27.87% in the < 2-Am


range. The amount of particles in the < 2-Am range
can be improved to about >79% by processing the
clay by acid leaching followed by size separation. The
brightness of the 0.2 and 0.4 M oxalic acid leached
fine fractions are, respectively, 85% and 87% (Table
6) and these values are much higher than 80% as
specified for filler or coating grade kaolin (IS standard
specification, IS: 505, 1978).

Different technological properties of the  53-Am


fraction and some beneficiated fractions for possible
use of the clay for ceramic and filler for paper and
other materials are presented in Tables 7 and 8 along
with the requirement as per Indian standard specifications. The  53-Am fraction of the clay as such is
not suitable for ceramic or other purposes. The
WHIMS-treated sample meets the properties like
LOI, Al2O3 and Fe2O3 + TiO2 content, shrinkage and

Table 8
Technological properties of processed Deopani kaolin for utilization as a filler material in paper, rubber, plastic and paint industry
Characteristics

Particle size
>53 A (max)
>10 A (max)
<10 A (min)
LOD
LOI (max)
Matter soluble in HCl (max)
Matter soluble in water (max)
Fe2O3 (max)
Whiteness
pH of the extract
MnO (max)

Filler in papera

0.8%
5.0%
75.0%
2.0% (powder)
14.0 15.5%
2.50%
0.50%
0.60%
80 85%
4.5 7.5
0.013%

General filler in rubber, plastic, paint, etc.a

1.0%
15.0%
60.0%

14.0 15.5%
2.50%
0.50%
0.75%

4.5 7.5

(A)  53 Am fraction. (B and C) Oxalic acid-treated (0.2 and 0.4 M wrt. iron content) fine fraction.
a
Indian Standard Specifications, IS: 505, 1978.

Deopani kaolin
A

1.54
27.41
70.59
1.05
13.05
2.60
0.40
1.70
75.5
6.5 7.0
0.009

0
0.27
99.73
1.49
13.45
2.10
0.42
1.17
85.0
5.0 5.5

0
0.21
99.79
1.68
13.75
1.80
0.44
1.00
87.0
5.0 5.5

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N.J. Saikia et al. / Applied Clay Science 24 (2003) 93103

firing characteristics for grade II and III ceramic raw


material except the particle size distribution and water
of plasticity. These requirements may possibly be
achieved by grinding of the WHIMS-treated sample.
The acid leached fine fraction meets all the requirements for use as a grade I ceramic raw material and
filler materials for paper and other materials except
the iron content, which is marginally high. Further
study on removal of iron from the clay is necessary to
obtain high quality kaolin from the Deopani deposit.

4. Conclusions
Deopani kaolin mainly contains kaolinite, quartz as
the major mineral with siderite (FeCO3) as the major
iron-bearing impurity. Wet sieving of the clay below
 53 Am removes almost the entire quartz and considerable amount of iron. Further treatment of the clay
with WHIMS generates clay required for use as a
grade II and III ceramic raw material as described in
Indian standard specifications. The iron content of the
clay may be further reduced with improvement of the
technological properties by leaching with organic
acids. Oxalic acid was found to be the best leachants
amongst the investigated organic acids. Preliminary
evaluation of the technological properties indicate that
the oxalic acid treatment can improve the quality of the
clay, which meets almost all the requirements for grade
I ceramics and filler material as described in Indian
standard specification. Further study is necessary to
establish the process parameters for generation of
better quality of products.

Acknowledgements
The authors are grateful to the Ministry of Coal and
Mines, Department of Mines, Government of India,
New Delhi for financial grant and State Directorate of
Geology and Mining, Government of Assam for
providing the kaolin sample. The authors are also
grateful to Indian Bureau of Mines, Nagpur, India for
extending WHIMS and XRF facilities and to Dr. R.K.
Barua, Scientist and Mr. P. Khound, Technical
Assistant of this laboratory for recording the XRD
patterns and FTIR spectra, respectively. The authors
are also thankful to Dr. R.N. Mishra, Retd. DDG, GSI,

and Chairman, PMC set up by ministry and Dr. J.S.


Sandhu, FNA, Director, RRL, Jorhat for their interest
in the work.

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