Enhancing rare earth element transfer from phosphate rock to phosphoric acid using an inexpensive fly ash additive

Hakkar M.; Arhouni F.E.; Mahrou A.; Bilal E.; Bertau M.; Roy A.; Steiner G.; Haneklaus N.; Mazouz H.; Boukhair A.; Benjelloun M.

Erschienen in ScienceDirect, Oktober 2021, Volume 172, 107166

Adding active silica (SiO2) to reduce the free fluoride content is a known method to improve the filterability of phosphogypsum (PG) during wet phosphoric acid (WPA) processing of phosphate rock (PR). Besides, this process can also promote the transfer of valuable rare earth elements (REE) from the PR into the liquid phosphoric acid (PA) stream rather than into the solid PG matrix from which later economic recovery is more challenging. Khouribga PR, that shows total REE concentrations of 577 ppm (328 ppm heavy REE and 249 ppm light REE) of which yttrium (Y) with 240 ppm constitutes the major fraction, is processed at the Jorf Lasfar El-Jadida chemical complex in Morocco that is also home to the country’s largest coal power plant. Fly ash produced during thermal power production, 70% of which is stacked in the immediate vicinity, presently remains mostly unused and consists largely (48%) of silica. In this work the use of fly ash (34 kg per t PR) and pure silica (8.5 kg per t PR) on the transfer of REE from Khouribga PR into the PA and PG stream during dihydrate WPA production was examined. The inexpensive fly ash/silica additive increases the transfer of various REE to the PA stream. For Y an increase of 37% was measured that resulted in a concentration of 48 ppm in the PA stream prior to further concentration by evaporation.


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