Can you help a student with information? Here is a request I received by e-mail from a student at the university that was the rival to that I attended. Therefore I must do anything I can to help in the interests of a long-standing academic rivalry. If you have the answer send it to me or directly to Jaco at

I am a metallurgical engineering student doing my final year project on zircon surface coatings and its effect on electrostatic separation efficiency.

The project theme originated from a problem currently occurring in industry where zircon particles report wrongly with the conducting particles during electrostatic separation.

Originally it was my belief that I would find a difference between the conducting properties of the zircon particles from the conducting and non-conducting fractions after ES-separation; however my test work showed no substantial difference.

Could it maybe be possible that the reason for the zircon reporting to the conducting fraction is due to wrong handling or installation of the electrostatic separation equipment? If so what are common problems or methods of wrong handling experienced in the industry?

Another question: what is the typical difference in conductivity required to achieve electrostatic separation, when considering zircon and rutile separation in particular?

Your advice and help will be greatly appreciated.