Rare earth elements in karst-bauxites: A novel untapped European resource?

Eimear Deady, Evangelos Mouchos, Kathryn Goodenough, Ben Williamson, Frances Wall

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paperpeer-review

Abstract

Karst-bauxite deposits form as a result of the accumulation of residual clay minerals in depressions on a karst limestone surface, and their subsequent lateritic weathering. Rare earth elements (REE) become concentrated in the bauxite deposits due to crystallisation of authigenic REE-bearing minerals, accumulation of residual phases and the adsorption of ions on clays and other mineral surfaces. REE are concentrated in the red mud waste generated by alumina production from bauxite through the Bayer process. Red muds thus contain on average 900 ppm REE compared with typical values of <100 ppm to ~500 ppm REE in the bauxites. Extraction of REE from red mud has been shown to be feasible although it is challenging due to the heterogeneous spatial distribution of REE in the bauxites and the need for development of appropriate processing methods. With annual European extraction of bauxite estimated to be approximately 3.5 million tonnes per annum, resulting in approximately 1.4 million tonnes of red mud from the production of alumina, understanding the REE resource potential of bauxites is integral to the assessment of European REE resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages364-375
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Rare earth elements

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