Coal fly ash as a resource for rare earth elements investing
assessment and analysis of the feasibility of economically recovering rare earth elements from coal and coal byproduct streams such as fly ash, coal refuse. Focus Paper. Rare earth elements: A review of applications, occurrence, exploration, analysis, recycling, and environmental impact. Rare Earth. Elements. (and other Critical Minerals). Unconventional Resources &. Processes for Extraction. Thomas Tarka (Thomas. ALIANTE CASINO SPORTS BETTING APP
They developed a method to extract REEs from an abundant toxic waste product called coal fly ash using a jolt of electricity. By subjecting coal fly ash to extreme heat, they freed up REEs from surrounding elements without the need for harsh, corrosive chemicals. This newsletter rocks. Stoy was not involved in the new research. REEs are also typically intermingled with their radioactive neighbors on the periodic table, uranium and thorium.
As a result of the environmental challenge, the U. China, meanwhile, ramped up production in the s and came to dominate the market. For the past several years, the U. Department of Energy has been investing in research projects to find better ways to extract REEs from alternative sources, like acid mine drainage and coal fly ash.
Extracting rare earth elements could be a way to both reduce fly ash waste and source REEs in a less destructive manner, but the trick is finding a way to access the elements safely and affordably. So far, the only way to pull REEs out of coal fly ash is with strong chemical treatments. Pursuing such answers is mineral-processing engineer and assistant professor Maria Holuszko, co-founder of the Urban Mining Innovation Centre at the University of British Columbia.
Holuszko is one of the few researchers in Canada working to identify rare-earth sources in existing coal waste in tailings ponds and on mine sites. She is also developing extraction methods. Rare-earth recovery from coal waste is complex and includes the use of acids. In the U. Similar pilot projects are being federally funded by the U. Potential upcycled rare-earth sources may also exist at other mineral mining sites, says Charles Dumaresq, vice-president of science and environmental management at the Mining Association of Canada MAC.
These include places where uranium and bauxite, used to produce alumina, have been mined. Even oil-waste tailings ponds in Fort McMurray may hold rare earth, says Dumaresq. There is no existing market for rare earth in Canada, nor is there a pre-existing North American supply chain for extraction or separation or a manufacturing base for products like permanent magnets.
The growing global urgency for rare earth may make it more efficient to source these metals from deposits in the earth, rather than relying upon mineral waste recycling, and two facilities — one American, one Canadian — are looking to capitalize on virgin deposits. China is first and the U. To some, this signals opportunity. The new plant will separate rare earth from virgin ore mined from northern regions of the province and create value-added midstream processing concentrating these metals, says SRC CEO Mike Crabtree.
Phase 1, opening in , is a hydrometallurgy plant that extracts rare earth from ore. The Phase 2 plant, which will be finished in , will use the solvent extraction process to produce separated rare-earth oxides. Lisa Evans, senior counsel for Earthjustice One potential rare-earth source is monazite mined from the Alces Lake area in northern Saskatchewan. In comparison, a tonne of coal ash might contain a few kilograms, he says. After being processed into magnet metals, a tonne of monazite ore is worth 40 to 50 times its original value, he says.
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