Seafloor Massive Sulfides (SMSs), which are formed by precipitates from hydrothermal fluids vented from seafloor, have been expected as one of mineral resources to be developed. The authors have proposed the concept of seafloor mineral processing for SMS mining, where valuable minerals contained in SMS ores are separated on seafloor. To apply a ball mill to the grinding unit for seafloor mineral processing, grinding experiments were carried out using a small-scale ball mill applicable to high-pressure condition. In the experiments, wet grinding and water-filled grinding of size-classified silica sands were carried out at three rotation rates to compare the grinding performance in both cases. In both cases, the silica sands were finely ground. The measurement of particle size of samples from the experiments showed that water-filled grinding had comparable grinding performance to wet grinding while the suitable rotation rate for water-filled grinding shifted to higher than that for wet grinding. This result suggests the possibility of water-filled grinding for seafloor mineral processing. If water-filled grinding can be employed for the grinding unit, the structure of the grinding unit would be simplified in comparison with wet grinding that leads to the saving of grinding costs.

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