Publications Repository - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

1 Publication
REE by-product potential at Catalão I: a geometallurgical assessment
Birtel, S.; Pereira, L.; Silva, A. C.; Gutzmer, J.;
A geometallurgical study of the rare earth mineralogy and microfabric relations was undertaken at the Catalão I deposit, Chapadão mine, Goiás/Brazil. At Catalão I a carbonatite and its lateritic cap have been exploited for more than 40 years; being the world’s second largest niobium deposit and producer. The study was undertaken to assess the technical possibility and feasibility to recover rare earth minerals as a by-product of niobium production. For this purpose, nine samples were collected from different stages of the beneficiation process in the so-called Tailings Plant. Mineral Liberation Analyzer (MLA), X-ray powder diffraction and bulk rock chemistry were used to characterize these samples for their processing properties. The recovery of REE in each of the tailing streams was quantified by mass balance. The results were used to identify the most suitable approach to recover REE as a by-product – without placing constraints on niobium production.

Monazite is the dominant REE mineral in the feed to the Tailings Plant; this feed heralds from the exploitation of lateritic weathering residues. Quartz, FeTi-oxides and phosphate minerals are the main gangue minerals. The highest REE contents are reported in the final flotation tailings stream (1.75 wt.% TREO), with monazite-bearing particles in a size range suitable for further processing (10-120 µm size range). Yet, liberation of monazite in this particle size fraction is rather poor. By seeking an analogy to the Brown's Range deposit in Australia, a tentative economic assessment is attempted for REE production at Chapadão. For this purpose, parameters derived from MLA were used to model possible monazite recovery and concentrate grades. This assessment illustrates that a marketable REE concentrate may be obtained as a by-product at Chapadão even at current REE prices.
Keywords: REE production, by product, geometallurgy
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Publ.-Id: 26651 - Permalink