Hydrometallurgical recovery of rare earth elements from mine tailings and WEEE

Sebastiaan Peelman, D. Kooijman, Jilt Sietsma, Yongxiang Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


The present study proposes three distinct processes to recycle rare earth elements (REE) from two low-grade secondary resources: REE-containing mine tailings and ferrous scrap from shredded waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The first developed process extracts both REE and phosphorus from the apatite mineral contained within the mine tailings by way of acidic leaching, followed by cryogenic crystallization and solvent extraction to purify both the REE and P products. This process successfully recovers 70–100% of the REE from the apatite and over 99% of its P. The second developed process is a low-cost, efficient method to recover Nd from the ferrous scrap of shredded WEEE. This is achieved by a water corrosion step followed by acidic leaching and precipitation. The overall Nd recovery of this approach is over 90%. The final process recovers both the Nd and the Fe from the shredded WEEE scrap. This is done by smelting the shredded WEEE scrap prior to leaching to produce metallic Fe- and a Nd-rich slag. The recovery rates of both Nd and Fe are over 90% and minimal waste is produced; however, the energy consumption is considerable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-377
JournalJournal of Sustainable Metallurgy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • WEEE recycling
  • Low-grade resources
  • Rare earth elements
  • Secondary resources
  • Rare earth recycling

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