Improved flotation of bastnaesite from ore promises greater rare earth output from mines

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Flotation experiment, showing bastnaesite-rich froth
Flotation experiment, showing bastnaesite-rich froth 

CMI scientists at Colorado School of Mines and Oak Ridge National Laboratory contributed to this research.

Achievement

Rare earth oxide (REO) recoveries of up to 78% with REO grades up to 69% have been achieved in locked-cycle testing of novel flotation collectors

Significance and impact

  • The results imply that up to 30% more rare earths can be obtained from a ton of bastnaesite ore, allowing for more favorable economics, less waste
  • Higher grade improves downstream processing, reducing chemical consumption, decreasing costs

Next steps

  • Understand what makes the tested collectors successful from a fundamental chemical point of view
  • Apply the flotation research to other sources of rare earth element ore to determine if the tested collectors are applicable to a wide range of mineralogical compositions
Flowsheet employed in the locked cycle testing procedures
Flowsheet employed in the locked cycle testing procedures