Kaolin goes through extensive processing phases to be a useful mineral with economic value. It starts from the prospecting and mining processes that require a large number of capital investments in the form of kaolin mining equipment and technology. Once mined, the raw white clay undergoes further multiple and complex stages that begin its processing journey.
Kaolin Mining Process
Unlike other minerals like coal, kaolin is a natural resource that has only a little or even no value when pulled out from the earth. Kaolin companies cannot just dig and then ship the crude clay mineral. So, how to mine kaolin from the beginning?
In addition to important kaolin mining equipment, this sort of mineral requires more extensive processes to become more value-added end products. Only after that, can they be commercially distributed and used by many customers for different purposes.
A. The Prospecting Phase
Before the mining process starts, the companies will do the prospecting phase.
Prospecting means exploring or searching for a specific area of an oil or other mineral deposits. The kaolin mining process usually starts with this prospecting or exploration first.
The kaolin companies or their team of geologists theoretically will study the surface of the earth while researching literature and other data. The purpose is to identify any land with potential china clay deposits.
Even in this exploration step, certain kaolin mining equipment is essential. The geologist team will need them to drill holes in the earth that can go deep about two hundred feet underground.
In this process, the standard is to drill fifty to a hundred holes for every 100 acres. It is to obtain a realistic and rational indication of kaolin deposit quality and size.
B. The Testing Phase
When they run into this white clay mineral, they will take the deposit core samples and send them to a laboratory for further testing. There will be a lot of sample taking and testing. The team will analyze them and determine the kaolin deposits’ quality and extent.
The test results will make the companies get several acceptable mining sites. Also, due to the varying quality of each kaolin deposit, the companies usually will operate on more than one mine.
After this, the kaolin mineral will go through several mining processes, along with the use of important kaolin mining equipment.
10+ Important Kaolin Mining Equipment
A. Drilling equipment
The mining stage is a process of extracting deposits from their first or original mineral environments. It usually includes the drilling procedure performed in types of open-pit or underground mining. There are several ways like hydraulic mining and dredging.
The following are different kaolin mining equipment the workers use to drill or extract this white clay mineral.
- Electro shovels
- Diesel shovels
- Power shovels
- Front-end loaders
- Suction pump (water cannon)
- Water jet
- Sluice boxes
They use the above essential kaolin mining equipment to get rid of the overburden and get access to deeper kaolin deposits located several hundred feet underground.
Using the suction pump of water canon is another way to take out the raw kaolin. It uses a pond made on the surface after the kaolin extraction process.
Hydraulic mining also uses the high-pressure water jet to extract the white china clay deposits by dislodging the mineral material or moving sediments.
B. Transport Equipment
Another important part of kaolin mining equipment is the transporting phase. From the hydraulic or dredging processes, the resulting sediment-water slurry will go to the sluice boxes channel to remove the kaolin.
Some kaolin companies also use a long pipeline to transport the dense slurry to the next or closer processing plants.
Some others make the draglines directly drop the slurry to the blunger (or portable blunger). This will lead to further kaolin processing stages.
However, they mostly use trucks to load the extracted crude mineral deposits and move them to further separate processing plant halls.
Raw kaolin is a white ore (usually soft) with wide-ranging particle size. It contains kaolinites as the predominant mineral. As previously stated, this china clay will go through several phases of the mining process and further extensive processing stages. Before completing those steps, you cannot use or get the economic or commercial value of this mineral.
The above kaolin mining equipment and transport equipment will stockpile and segregate the crude kaolin based on several parameters, like particle size, brightness, viscosity, or even bleachability. Only after that, this clay mineral can be a useful product for varying applications.