Rare-Earth Occurrences in the Pea Ridge Tailings
Description:Tailings from the Pea Ridge iron mine contain significant amounts of apatite, which has rare-earth element values associated with it. In association with the recovery of rare-earth minerals as a secondary resource, the U.S. Bureau of Mines conducted an investigation on the recover ability of the rare-earth minerals from these tailings. The mill tailings were subjected to a phosphate flotation to separate the apatite from other constituents. More than 70-pct recovery of the rare-earth values was achieved. Based on mineralogical characterization and prior analysis of rare-earth-bearing breccia pipe material at Pea Ridge, it is proposed that processing this phosphate concentrate on a vanner table would yield up to a 95-pct recovery of the rare earths in the concentrate, with the apatite reporting to the tailings. Intensive ore microscopy studies of the original tailings to the flotation products led to the identification of monazite, xenotime, and rare-earth-enriched apatite as the major rare-earth-bearing minerals in the tailings.
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