Hydrometallurgical Treatment of an Eudialyte Concentrate for Preparation of Rare Earth Carbonate
[63, (1), 2 ]
This study was a small part of the EURARE project concerned with the processing of eudialyte concentrates from Greenland and Norra Kärr, Sweden. Eudialyte is a potential rare earth elements (REE) primary resource due to its good solubility in acid, low radioactivity and relatively high REE content. The main challenge is avoiding the formation of silica gel, which is non-filterable when using acid to extract REE. Some methods have been studied to address this issue and, based on previous research, this paper examined a complete hydrometallurgical treatment of eudialyte concentrate to the production of REE carbonate as a preliminary product. Dry digestion with concentrated hydrochloric acid (10 M) and subsequent water leaching of the treated eudialyte concentrate resulted in high REE extraction while avoiding gel formation. Experiments were performed at a small scale to obtain the optimal parameters. After the first two stages, 88.8% REE was leached under the optimal conditions (HCl:concentrate ratio 1.25:1, digestion time 40 min, water:concentrate ratio 2:1, leaching temperature 20–25°C and leaching time 30 min). After obtaining the pregnant leach solution, preliminary removal of impurities by a precipitation method was examined as well. When adjusting the pH to ~4.0 using calcium carbonate, zirconium, aluminium and iron were removed at 99.1%, 90.0% and 53.1%, respectively, with a REE loss of 2.1%. Finally, a pilot plant test was performed to demonstrate the feasibility and recovery performance under optimal parameters. The material balance in the upscaling test was also calculated to offer some references for future industrial application. A REE carbonate containing 30.0% total REE was finally produced, with an overall REE recovery yield of 85.5%.