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Beneficial effect of iron oxide/hydroxide minerals on sulfuric acid baking and leaching of monazite

Demol, J., Ho, E., Soldenhoff, K., Karatchevtseva, I. and Senanayake, G. (2022) Beneficial effect of iron oxide/hydroxide minerals on sulfuric acid baking and leaching of monazite. Hydrometallurgy, 211 . Art. 105864.

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The sulfuric acid bake/leach process is an established industrial process for the extraction of rare earths from hard-rock monazite ores/concentrates. The chemical reactions in the monazite acid bake can be strongly influenced by the gangue mineralogy of the ore/concentrate. In this work, the beneficial effect of three iron oxide/hydroxide minerals, namely hematite, goethite and magnetite, added to high grade monazite concentrate in the acid bake (temperature range of 200–800°) and leach process was investigated to understand the role of iron gangue. Baked solids and leach residues were characterised by elemental analyses, XRD, SEM-EDS and FT-IR. It was found that the addition of iron minerals to the monazite acid bake had a significant impact on bake chemistry, acting to significantly increase the leaching of both the rare earth elements and thorium, compared to monazite alone, mainly for temperatures above 300 °C. The increased dissolution of rare earth elements and thorium was attributed to the formation of an amorphous and insoluble iron sulfate-polyphosphate type phase in preference to insoluble rare earth and thorium containing polyphosphates identified during acid baking of monazite alone. After baking at 650 °C, the iron sulfate-polyphosphate type phase was altered to a more soluble form, leading to an increase in dissolution of iron, phosphorus and thorium. Acid baking at 800 °C led to the formation of FePO4, Fe2O3, CePO4 (monazite) and in some cases CeO2, causing a decrease in leaching of rare earths and thorium, and either an increase or a decrease in leaching of iron and phosphorus depending on the formation of FePO4 versus Fe2O3.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Mathematics, Statistics, Chemistry and Physics
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2022 Published by Elsevier B.V.
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