Economical exploitation of rare earth elements from monazite-bearing secondary raw materials from the region of Catalão


Project description

Many high technology applications depend on rare earth elements. For instance, they are used for high performance magnets in gearless wind turbines or electric motors as well as for phosphors in energy-saving lamps or light-emitting diodes. Due to the high growth rates of these markets, a strong increase in demand is expected within the next years, which cannot be covered without an expansion of the primary production of rare earth elements.  

Rare earth-bearing gypsum tailings from the fertilizer industry have proven to be a sustainable and economically viable source for the production of rare earth elements. Large quantities are generated for example as a by-product in a fertilizer production plant in Catalão, Brazil. So far, the gypsums are either used as soil conditioners in agriculture or dumped in large tailings. The CaMona project consortium, led by Ceritech AG, intends to change this by extracting the rare earth elements from the gypsum tailings. As no additional mining infrastructure is needed, remarkable cost and ecologic advantages can be expected in comparison to the exploitation of hard rock deposits.

The consortium further consists of the working group Petrology and Economic Geology at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg and the Department of Mineral and Waste Processing at Technical University of Clausthal. Additionally, the project is supported by the Brazilian Modelling and Mineral Processing Research Laboratory at Federal University of Goiás.

The overall objective of the project is the further development of the extraction processes to prepare an industrial implementation. At the Institute of Mineral and Waste Processing, Waste Disposal and Geomechanics (IFAD), the chemical processing will be developed to obtain high-purity rare earth products.

Joint partners

  • Ceritech AG, Germany
  • Clausthal University of Technolgy, Germany
  • Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
  • Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil

Supported by:

Grant agreement no. 033R187B

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