July 2021
Volume 73    Issue 7

Occurrence modes of niobium in kaolin clay from Guizhou, China

Zhu, Li; Gu, Hannian; Yang, Yongqiong; Wen, Hanjie; Du, Shengjiang; Luo, Chongguang; Wang, Ning


Kaolin clay from Late Permian sequences has been considered a potential resource for niobium (Nb) due to high concentrations reported at several hundred micrograms per gram and large areal distribution. A previous case study identified titanium (Ti)-bearing minerals associated with kaolin clay as the main host phases for niobium. Correlation between the Nb and Ti concentrations was poor, however, and the types of Ti-bearing minerals and modes of Nb occurrence were unclear. To investigate this, typical kaolin clay samples from Late Permian sequences in southwest China were characterized, and final products derived from them were investigated using X-ray fluorescence (XRF), inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscope (SEM), transmission electron microscope (TEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The results revealed three types of titanium dioxide (TiO2) mineral phases in the clay samples: (1) massive TiO2 minerals, (2) aggregates of nano TiO2 minerals and (3) granular TiO2 minerals. The first two did not contain niobium. From the EDS analysis, the granular TiO2 minerals, including anatase and rutile, were the source of Nb in the kaolin clay samples. 


Full-text paper:
Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2021) 38:855–862, https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-020-00363-x


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