After the milestone review paper of RARE³ KU Leuven/EREAN [K. Binnemans, et al., Recycling of rare earths: a critical review, Journal of Cleaner Production, 51 (2013) 1-22, crowned as both “Hot paper” and “Highly cited paper” in Web of Science], the KU Leuven team has now received confirmation concerning the acceptance of a new rare-earth recycling review paper in Journal of Cleaner Production. This paper focuses on the recycling of REEs from industrial process residues. This paper will become a central reference in the EU landscape, as it corroborates the importance and impact of zero-waste valorisation of REE-containing tailings, sludges, slags and ashes. The paper also has an extensive section on red mud.
Details paper: Koen Binnemans, Peter Tom Jones, Bart Blanpain, Tom Van Gerven, Yiannis Pontikes, Towards zero-waste valorisation of rare-earth-containing industrial process residues: a critical review, Journal of Cleaner Production, 99 (2015) 17-38. Download here.
Abstract paper: The supply risk for some critical rare-earth elements (REEs), which are instrumental in many cleantech and/or hi-tech applications, has sparked the development of innovative recycling schemes for End-of-Life fluorescent lamps, permanent magnets and nickel metal hydride batteries. These waste fractions represent relatively small volumes, albeit with relatively high rare-earth contents. Nevertheless, rare earths are also present in lower concentrations in a multitude of industrial process residues, such as phosphogypsum, bauxite residue (red mud), mine tailings, metallurgical slags, coal ash, incinerator ash and waste water streams. This review discusses the possibilities to recover rare earths from these ”secondary resources”, which have in common that they contain only low concentrations of rare-earth elements, but are available in very large volumes and could provide significant amounts of rare earths. The success rate is set to increase if the rare-earth recovery from these industrial waste streams is part of a comprehensive, zero-waste, “product-centric” valorisation scheme, in which applications are found for the residual fractions that are obtained after removal of not only the rare earths but also other valuable (base) metals.
Keywords: bauxite residue; lanthanides; phosphogypsum; rare earths; red mud; zero-waste valorisation; metal recovery; mine tailings; slag and ash.