Recovery of rare earths from bauxite residue (Red Mud)

Chenna Borra, Bart Blanpain, Yiannis Pontikes, Koen Binnemans, Tom Van Gerven

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The management of bauxite residue (BR) is a major issue for the aluminum industry because of its high alkalinity and the large volumes generated. Therefore, the recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) with or without other metals from BR and utilization of the generated residue can contribute to a solution on the management problem of BR and it can be one of the options to meet the demand of REEs. In view of the above, the selective recovery of REEs over major elements such as iron by direct acid leaching was studied initially. From the leaching results, either the recovery of REEs was low or the dissolution of iron was high. To address that, iron was removed from BR by smelting. The slag generated after smelting was leached with mineral acids. The selectivity of REEs over iron was greatly improved. However, the high level of alumina presence in BR required a large amount of fluxes thereby increasing the energy consumption in smelting. Hence, the removal (and recovery) of alumina from BR by sodium carbonate roasting was carried out. The sample, after alumina removal, was smelted and the REEs were successfully recovered from slag by leaching with mineral acids. An alternative process, called sulfation–roasting–leaching, was also developed by which the REEs can be selectively leached. The scandium recovery, however, was low. Preliminary energy and economic analysis showed that alkali roasting–smelting–leaching and sulfation–roasting–leaching were the most promising processes for the treatment of BR.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCritical Materials
Subtitle of host publicationUnderlying Causes and Sustainable Mitigation Strategies
EditorsErik Offerman
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherWorld Scientific
ISBN (Print)978-981-3271-04-3
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameWorld Scientific Series in Current Energy Issues
ISSN (Print)2425-0163
ISSN (Electronic)2425-0171

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