February 2020
Volume 72    Issue 2

The occurrence and concentration of rare earth elements in acid mine drainage and treatment byproducts. Part 2

Vass, Christopher R.; Noble, Aaron; Ziemkiewicz, Paul F.

ABSTRACT:

Many modern industries rely on rare earth elements (REEs) to produce products that are essential to both civil and defense applications. In a prior study (Vass et al., 2019), we showed that REE grades in acid mine drainage (AMD) and associated byproduct precipitates from AMD treatment (AMDp) warrant evaluation as a feedstock for REE production. The current work extends that effort through a broad survey of 141 AMD treatment sites in Northern and Central Appalachia. In this study, 185 raw AMD and 623 AMDp field samples were obtained and analyzed to assess the REE and major metal concentrations. Results show that an average of 282 μg/L and 724 g/t of REEs occur in AMD and AMDp, respectively. Additionally, both basins contained similar distributions of REEs, and these distributions tended to favor heavy and critical REEs when compared with traditional REE ore deposits. 

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