May 2021
Volume 73    Issue 5

Characterization of bauxite residue and challenges for scandium extraction by the hydrometallurgical route

Botelho Junior, Amilton Barbosa; Espinosa, Denise Crocce Romano; Tenorio, Jorge Alberto Soares


Bauxite ore is used to produce alumina in the Bayer process. For each tonne of alumina produced, around 1 to 1.5 t of bauxite residue is generated, with an estimated 4 Mt of the residue generated worldwide in 2015, four times more in 1985. The residue is currently stocked in tailings dams. A new step in the Bayer process has been used to recover sodium hydroxide, which is used as a leaching agent, and reduce its content in the residue. After digestion, the residue is separated from the Bayer liquor and passed through press filters. This bauxite residue is known as a source of scandium. Characterization of the residue is an important step to map opportunities worldwide. For this reason, the goal of the present study was to characterize the bauxite residue and evaluate the challenges for scandium recovery. The scandium content was found to be 43 g/t, which makes this bauxite residue attractive for extraction purposes.

Full-text paper:
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2021) 38:161–176,


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