The Waikato North Head deposit produces a magnetic mineral concentrate from Quaternary sands that formed in a coastal setting in the North Island of New Zealand. Detailed examination of the magnetic mineral fraction of the different stratigraphic horizons mined at Waikato North Head shows that the youngest units yield concentrates with significant concentrations of gangue minerals that are included as composite grains, inclusions in titanomagnetite, and as gangue grains with titanomagnetite inclusions. The most abundant gangue minerals in the magnetic fractions of all mined units are pyroxene and amphibole; feldspar, quartz, and biotite are less abundant.
The magnetic minerals, which are predominantly titanomagnetite, are used as feed for the Iron Plant in New Zealand Steel’s Glenbrook Steel Mill. From time to time, excessive accretion formation impacts the operation of the rotary reduction kilns of the Iron Plant. Olivine group minerals are the most common silicate phase in these accretions, and we hypothesise that the silicon and magnesium in these minerals are derived from the gangue minerals that are included in the magnetic mineral concentrate from the ironsands. Although various remediation processes are possible, the simplest and most cost effective would appear to be ensuring adequate blending of material from different stratigraphic units, particularly when the youngest strata are being mined in the deposit.