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The sulfuric acid bake and leach route for processing of rare earth ores and concentrates: A review

Demol, J., Ho, E., Soldenhoff, K. and Senanayake, G. (2019) The sulfuric acid bake and leach route for processing of rare earth ores and concentrates: A review. Hydrometallurgy, 188 . pp. 123-139.

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Rare earths are critical to numerous materials and applications underpinning modern civilisation. The majority of the world's rare earth reserves are hosted in the three minerals bastnasite, monazite and xenotime. A key step in the processing of rare earth mineral concentrates is the chemical decomposition of the mineral structure to release the constituent elements. The sulfuric acid bake has historically been, and is also currently, one of the major processes used for this step. Current sulfuric acid bake processes for the Bayan Obo deposit in China and the Mt. Weld deposit in Australia together account for more than half of the world's rare earth production. In the sulfuric acid bake, the rare earth elements are converted to rare earth sulfates which are dissolved in a subsequent water leach. The conditions required to achieve mineral decomposition vary widely for different rare earth minerals. Adjustment of process conditions may often be used to achieve some degree of impurity rejection which is beneficial to downstream processing. This paper reviews the application of the sulfuric acid bake process to ores/concentrates containing mainly monazite, xenotime and bastnasite, and other less common rare earth minerals including euxenite, samarskite, fergusonite, loparite, allanite, eudialyte and pyrochlore. The reported effects of feed mineralogy and process variables such as reaction temperature, bake duration, acid to concentrate ratio and particle size are presented along with a brief review of current understanding of the bake chemistry and water leach results.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2019 Elsevier B.V.
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