"REE Nam Xe" Sustainable Processing of Rare Earths

Research Project in the BMBF funding measure CLIENT

The “Nam Xe” site in northwest Vietnam is considered the second largest rare earth deposit in the country. In order to extract and process the valuable minerals economically and ecologically into marketable concentrates, Vietnam requires modern technological solutions. Processing these materials is a highly complex procedure partially due to the fine distribution and low concentrations of rare earths in naturally occurring rock. Thus, in order to extract the material from the rock, countless tons of rubble accumulate as a result. Vietnam has therefore sought assistance from Germany.

Optical Sensors and Computer Models

Prior to processing, detailed examination of the composition and microstructure of the rocks is carried out with the support of modern analysis methods. Optical sensors are then used for targeted pre-sorting. They detect for example the color of the mined rock and can ensure that unwanted material is expelled from the sorting belt by means of a targeted air jet. The aim of the project is to pre-sort mined material on-site. By reducing the amount of non-valuable material upstream into the processing plant, this enables energy savings, reduction in the amount of processing chemicals and lower overall production costs. Such deposits also often contain minerals with radioactive elements such as thorium, which can be partially removed from the mined rock during pre-sorting. By using this method, further environmentally damaging effects in the mining of rare earths could be minimized; a specific aspect that the Vietnamese partners want investigated and to have integrated into the overall outcome.

Following the pre-sorting the ore is to be crushed and the individual minerals separated using a method known as ‘flotation’. In order to determine at an early stage, which steps are suitable for further processing, mathematicians compute which subsequent methods are likely to be most efficient. The computer models are based on the composition of the raw material as well as intermediate products.

This three year project supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research(2) with an approximate investment of 275,000 Euros is due for completion in December 2018. The CLIENT funding measure is part of the “Research for Sustainable Development” (FONA)(3) program.

Project title: Mineralogical characterization and sustainable processing strategies for the Nam Xe rare earths ore deposit in Vietnam

Project partners:

Duration: January 1, 2016 - December 31, 2018

Grant: 273.600 Euro

Funding code: 033R120

Funding measure: CLIENT - International Partnerships for Sustainable Technologies and Services for Climate Protection and Environment

Funded by:

Federal Ministry of Education and Research LOGO PTJ(7) LOGO FONA(8)

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Dr. Robert Möckel
Project coordinator

Phone: +49 0351 260 - 4444

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(1) http://www.hzdr.de/db/Cms?pNid=no&pOid=46725
(2) https://www.bmbf.de/en/index.html
(3) https://www.fona.de/en/index.php
(4) http://www.hzdr.de/hif
(5) http://uvr-fia.de/
(6) http://en.humg.edu.vn/
(7) http://www.ptj.de/
(8) https://www.fona.de/en/index.php