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What are the methods of mining rare earth elements?

34 26.Mar.2024 KZ Editor

 Rare earth elements include the lanthanides with atomic numbers 57 to 71 in the periodic table, from lanthanum to lutetium, including scandium and yttrium. Rare earth-containing minerals are usually dominated by heavy rare earth elements or light rare earth elements. Minerals that mainly contain yttrium and heavy rare earth elements include beryllium yttriumite, xenotime, yttriumite, xenopyrite, ferromanganite, yttrium-tantalite, yttrium-tungsten ore, and yttriumite.


Minerals that mainly contain light rare earth elements include bastnaesite, monazite, albite, lopazite, rhodonite, parasitite, lanthanite, leucite, diatomaceous earth, silmanite, and magnesium feldspar. , fluorite and cerium feldspar. Commercially operated mines around the world extract primarily the ores bastnasite, monazite, and xenotime.

Rare earth mining

Rare earth mining can be open-pit mining, underground mining or in-situ leaching. For a typical open pit mine, the method is very similar to other mining operations and involves overburden removal, mining, milling, crushing and grinding, separation or concentration. The separated enriched concentrate product may contain about 30% to 70% rare earth ores. This process requires higher amounts of water and energy consumption.


If the deposit type is hard rock, traditional open pit or underground truck shovel mining systems are used. On the other hand, in the case of mineral sand-based monazite type deposits, either wet dredging or dry mining methods are used. In the case of a wet mining operation, a floating dredge cuts the ore beneath the surface of the pond and pumps the slurry to a floating wet concentrator. Dry mining is similar to a traditional truck and shovel system.

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