Three types of apatite were identified by means of cathodoluminescence (CL) images in flotation concentrate and tailing samples from the Catalão Mine in Brazil. They are predominantly blue apatite, followed by green apatite and, less frequently, yellow apatite. The chemical compositions of these types of apatite were determined by electron microprobe analysis and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). Blue and green apatite responded well to the process, thus remaining in the concentrate, while yellow apatite remained in the tailings. Yellow apatite has the lowest phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5 ) content and largest anionic and cationic sites substitution, followed by green apatite, whereas blue apatite is the most homogeneous, with highest phosphorus (P) and calcium (Ca) grades and lowest substitution level. A negative correlation of the amount of phosphorus with fluorine was observed. Furthermore, impregnation of iron oxide-hydroxides in the yellow apatite was also observed. Therefore, the low flotation behavior is due to low crystallinity coupled with impregnation onto its surface.
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2022) 39:679–688, https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-022-00559-3