Journal of Sustainable Metallurgy

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 57–68 | Cite as

A Study of the Occurrence of Selected Rare-Earth Elements in Neutralized–Leached Bauxite Residue and Comparison with Untreated Bauxite Residue

  • Rodolfo Marin Rivera
  • Ghania Ounoughene
  • Annelies Malfliet
  • Johannes Vind
  • Dimitris Panias
  • Vicky Vassiliadou
  • Koen Binnemans
  • Tom Van GervenEmail author
Research Article


This study investigates the chemical associations of the selected rare-earth elements (Sc, Y, Ce, La, and Nd) with major element phases in the postprocessed bauxite residues and compares them with the untreated bauxite residue. The treatment of bauxite residue considers our previous published process which involved the neutralization with CO2, followed by leaching with H2SO4. Neutralized bauxite residue resulted with larger aggregates than the untreated bauxite residue after making contact with CO2 as the consequence of additional CaCO3 formation. Neutralization with CO2, however, has a negligible effect on the distribution of the rare-earth elements (REEs) with respect to the untreated bauxite residue, but a large amount of rare earths remained unreacted after acid leaching. Electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) confirmed the chemical associations of Sc(III) and Ce(IV) with Fe(III)- and Al(III)-containing minerals in the postprocessed bauxite residues, i.e., bauxite residues subjected to CO2-neutralization and neutralization–acid leaching processes. The occurrence of Nd(III) is positively correlated to that of La(III) in the untreated bauxite residue, but both of them may be associated with the same mineralogical phase as Ce(IV) after processing. Y(III) may remain associated with the Al/Si-minerals, cancrinite and chamosite. Ergo, the extractability of Sc, Y, Ce, La, and Nd from neutralized bauxite residue is more difficult in H2SO4 media due to the presence of coarser particles compared to those of the untreated bauxite residue, but also due to the formation of a solid product layer (i.e., CaSO4) that is presumably adsorbed on the surface of Fe(III)-rich phases (hematite and goethite) and Al(III)-containing minerals (diaspore, gibbsite, boehmite, and chamosite).


Bauxite residue Carbon dioxide Electron probe microanalysis Rare earths Red mud 



The above research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020/2014–2019) under Grant Agreement No. 636876 (MSCA- ETN REDMUD). This publication reflects only the authors’ view, exempting the Community from any liability. Project website:


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Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringKU LeuvenHeverleeBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Materials EngineeringKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.School of Mining and Metallurgical EngineeringNational Technical University of AthensAthensGreece
  4. 4.Aluminium of Greece (Mytilineos S.A)BoeotiaGreece
  5. 5.Department of ChemistryKU LeuvenHeverleeBelgium

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