A rare earth element (REE) or rare earth metal (REM) is one of a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides, as well as scandium and yttrium. Scandium and yttrium are considered rare-earth elements because they tend to occur in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and exhibit similar chemical properties.
Despite their name, rare-earth elements are relatively plentiful in Earth’s crust, with cerium being the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million, more abundant than copper. They are not especially rare, but they tend to occur together in nature and are difficult to separate from one another. However, because of their geochemical properties, rare-earth elements are typically dispersed and not often found concentrated as rare-earth minerals in economically exploitable ore deposits.
Uses of Rare Earth Elements. Rare earth metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and much more.
Most of us use rare earth elements every day – without knowing it. These little-known and fascinating elements make modern electronics possible.
Mining Rare Earth
Rare Earth Minerals Processing. There are two major REE ore minerals from which predominantly LREE can be extracted with relative ease: bastnaesite and monazite. Bastnaesite, a fluorocarbonate mineral and monazite, a phosphate, contain predominantly either cerium, lanthanum or yttrium.
The run of mine material is passed through a cascade of physical processing steps including crushing, screening, grinding and flotation finally producing a bastnaesite pre-concentrate from which products with different REO contents are derived in subsequent thermal and chemical processing steps. The REE mineral concentrate is digested in hydrochloric acid and the resulting REE laden liquor is passed through a sequence of solvent extraction with several mixer-settler steps. Final products of this element-selective extraction processes are either separated REO or other products following customer requirements.
Online Monitoring in Rare Earth Minerals Processing
The TOPAZ Rare Earth fulfils the requirements of the REE mining industry with the measurements of three key compounds:
Rare earths analyser
The online analysis of REE in condensate water, cooling tower and discharge water enables early leak detection along the mining process. Contaminated cooling water and condensate must be diverted and treated in WTP prior to be discharged. The TOPAZ Rare Earth from SERES Environment is specifically designed for to meet the REE industries in terms of environmental compliance and Process control.
Ammonium Bicarbonate analyser
Ammonium bicarbonate is used to precipitate the solution of cerium 4, the title of this solution, principally made from NH4 and CO2, determines the quality of the precipitate. Accurate and fast monitoring of Ammonium Bicarbonate enables automated plant operations and optimal dosing.
Measurement of cerium 3 in cerium 4 for quality control and product categorisation depending on the specifications of the finished product.
AT THE HEART OF INNOVATION
SERES environnement is continually implicated in the process of technological innovation. “We constantly re-invest in research and development in order to provide our clients with the most advanced technologies. For SERES, the notion of change is a permanent challenge. We work in partnership and collaboration with French and foreign research centres (such as the CNRS – the French National Centre for Scientific Research), Engineering Colleges and Universities.” SERES environnement makes 60% of its turnover on the export market in more than 35 countries with references in the Oil & Gas, Water treatment, Cement and Glass industry, Energy and large manufacturing companies…
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