Advertisement

Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 903–916 | Cite as

The Occurrence and Concentration of Rare Earth Elements in Acid Mine Drainage and Treatment By-products: Part 1—Initial Survey of the Northern Appalachian Coal Basin

  • Christopher R. VassEmail author
  • Aaron Noble
  • Paul F. Ziemkiewicz
Article

Abstract

The conventional rare earth element (REE) industry has historically sought to develop ore deposits where geologic processes have produced mineralized zones with commercially attractive REE concentrations. These deposits are extremely uncommon, particularly in the USA. Given the criticality of these materials and the need for sustainable domestic supply, the current research seeks to leverage other autogenous processes that lead to concentrated REE resources. One such process is the generation of acid mine drainage (AMD). AMD is very common in many coal mining districts and results from the exposure and oxidation of pyrite during mining. During the generation and migration of AMD, liberated sulfuric acid mobilizes several metal ions including REEs. Treatment of AMD is required under U.S.C §1251, the Clean Water Act, and often consists of neutralization, oxidation, and metal hydroxide precipitation. To investigate the deportment of REEs during this process, a field sampling campaign was undertaken, whereby the concentration of REEs in AMD and AMD precipitates was measured directly. In the nine sites evaluated in this study, the REE concentrations of the precipitates varied from 29 to 1286 ppm with an average of 517 ppm among the sampled sites. The individual elements were enriched compared with the associated bulk Northern Appalachian (NAPP) coal material by factors ranging from 3 to 15. Furthermore, the distribution of REEs in all precipitate samples favored the heavy REEs (HREEs) when compared with traditional REE ores. This research represents the first part of multi-part research endeavor to characterize, classify, and determine the practicality of refining REEs from AMD and its by-products.

Keywords

Acid mine drainage Rare earth elements Coal by-products 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under Award Number DE-FE0026927.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Disclaimer

This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the US Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the US Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the US Government or any agency thereof.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. 1.
    Fernandez V (2017) Rare-earth elements market: a historical and financial perspective. Resour Policy 53:26–45.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resourpol.2017.05.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Schulz KJ, DeYoung JH, Seal RR, Bradley DC (2017) Critical mineral resources of the United States - economic and environmental geology and prospects for future supply Professional Paper 1802Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jordens A, Cheng YP, Waters KE (2013) A review of the beneficiation of rare earth element bearing minerals. Miner Eng 41:97–114.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mineng.2012.10.017 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cox C, Kynicky J (2018) The rapid evolution of speculative investment in the REE market before, during, and after the rare earth crisis of 2010–2012. Extr Ind Soc 5:8–17.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exis.2017.09.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hellman PL, Duncan RK (2014) Evaluation of rare earth element deposits. Appl Earth Sci 123:107–117.  https://doi.org/10.1179/1743275814Y.0000000054 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Smyth J (2018) Lynas eyes legal action after Malaysia rare- earths blow. Financ Times London 18Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Imholte DD, Nguyen RT, Vedantam A, Brown M, Iyer A, Smith BJ, Collins JW, Anderson CG, O’Kelley B (2018) An assessment of U.S. rare earth availability for supporting U.S. wind energy growth targets. Energy Policy 113:294–305.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2017.11.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    U.S. Geological Survey (2018) Mineral Commodity Summaries 2018: US Geological SurveyGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Humphries M (2012) Rare earth elements: the global supply chainGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Campbell GA (2014) Rare earth metals: a strategic concern. Miner Econ 27:21–31.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13563-014-0043-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Goodenough KM, Wall F, Merriman D (2017) The rare earth elements: demand, global resources, and challenges for resourcing future generations. Nat Resour Res 27:1–16.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11053-017-9336-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Van Gosen B, Verplanck PL, Emsbo P (2019) Rare earth element mineral deposits in the United StatesGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Preston JS, Cole PM, Craig WM, Feather AM (1996) The recovery of rare earth oxides from a phosphoric acid by-product. Part 1: leaching of rare earth values and recovery of a mixed rare earth oxide by solvent extraction. Hydrometallurgy 41:1–19.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-386X(95)00051-H CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Preston JS, Cole PM, Du Preez AC, Fox MH, Fleming AM (1996) The recovery of rare earth oxides from a phosphoric acid by-product. Part 2: the preparation of high-purity cerium dioxide and recovery of a heavy rare earth oxide concentrate. Hydrometallurgy 41:21–44.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-386X(95)00067-Q CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Preston JS, Du Preez AC, Cole PM, Fox MH (1996) The recovery of rare earth oxides from a phosphoric acid by-product. Part 3. The separation of the middle and light rare earth fractions and the preparation of pure europium oxide. Hydrometallurgy 42:131–149.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-386X(95)00079-V CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Preston JS (1996) The recovery of rare earth oxides from a phosphoric acid byproduct. Part 4. The preparation of magnet-grade neodymium oxide from the light rare earth fraction. Hydrometallurgy 42:151–167.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-386X(95)00082-R CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Binnemans K, Jones PT, Blanpain B, Van Gerven T, Yang Y, Walton A et al (2013) Recycling of rare earths: a critical review. J Clean Prod 51:1–22.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.12.037 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Rademaker JH, Kleijn R, Yang Y (2013) Recycling as a strategy against rare earth element criticality: a systemic evaluation of the potential yield of NdFeB magnet recycling. Environ Sci Technol 47:10129–10136.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es305007w CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Finkleman RB (1993) Trace and minor elements in coal. In: Engel MH, Macko SA (eds) Org. Geochem. Springer, Boston, p 594Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Schofield A, Haskin L (1964) Rare-earth distribution patterns in eight terrestrial materials. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 28:437–446.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0016-7037(64)90117-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Zubovic P, Stadnichenko T, Sheffey NB Distribution of minor elements in coals of the Appalachian region, Washington, D.C, p 1966Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Cravotta CA (2008) Dissolved metals and associated constituents in abandoned coal-mine discharges, Pennsylvania, USA. Part 1: Constituent quantities and correlations 23:166–202.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2007.10.011.
  23. 23.
    United States Department of Energy (2017) Rare earth elements from coal and coal byproductsGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hower J, Granite E, Mayfield D, Lewis A, Finkelman R (2016) Notes on contributions to the science of rare earth element enrichment in coal and coal combustion byproducts. Minerals 6:32.  https://doi.org/10.3390/min6020032 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ziemkiewicz PF, He T, Noble A, Liu X (2016) Recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) from coal mine drainage. West Virginia Mine Drain. Task Force Symp., Morgantown, WVGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Skousen JG, Sexstone A, Ziemkiewicz PF (2000) Acid mine drainage control and treatment. Reclam Drastically Disturb Lands, pp 1–42Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hoehn RC, Sizemore DR (1977) Acid mine drainage (AMD) and its impact on a Virginia stream. Water Resour Bull 13:153–160.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-1688.1977.tb02000.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Acid Mine Drainage Prediction (1994) Washington, D.C. EPA 530-R-94-036Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Akcil A, Koldas S (2006) Acid mine drainage (AMD): causes, treatment and case studies. J Clean Prod 14:1139–1145.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2004.09.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kalin M, Fyson A, Wheeler WN (2006) The chemistry of conventional and alternative treatment systems for the neutralization of acid mine drainage. Sci Total Environ 366:395–408.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2005.11.015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kleinmann RLP (2001) Prediction of water quality at surface coal mines. Natl Mine L Reclam Cent Located West Virginia Univ Morgantown, West Virginia 239:247Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Hill DW (1969) Neutralization of acid mine drainage. Ater Pollut Control Fed 41:1702–15.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ziemkiewicz PF (1998) Steel slag : applications for AMD control. Proc 1998 Confrence Hazard Waste Res, p 44–62.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Gazea B, Adam K, Kontopoulos A (1996) A review of passive systems for the treatment of acid mine drainage. Miner Eng 9:23–42.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0892-6875(95)00129-8. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    USEPA (1983) Design manual: neutralization of acid mine drainage. Cincinnati, OHGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ackman TE (1982) Sludge disposal from acid mine drainage treatment. Avondale, MDGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Payette C, Lam W, Angle C, Mikula R (1991) Evaluation of improved lime neutralization proccesses. Proc. Second Int. Confrence Abat. Acidic Drain., Monreal, CanGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Johnson DB, Hallberg KB (2005) Acid mine drainage remediation options: a review. Sci Total Environ 338:3–14.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2004.09.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Demchak J, Skousen J, McDonald LM (2013) Longevity of acid discharges from underground mines located above the regional water table. J Environ Qual 33:656.  https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2004.6560 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Light DDM, Donovan JJ (2015) Mine-water flow between contiguous flooded underground coal mines with hydraulically compromised barriers. Environ Eng Geosci 21:147–164.  https://doi.org/10.2113/gseegeosci.21.2.147 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Capo RC, Winters WR, Weaver TJ, Stafford SL, Hedin RS, Stewart BW (2001) Hydrogeologic and geochemical evolution of deep mine discharges, Irwin Syncline, Pennsylvania. Proc. - West Virginia Surf. Mine Drain. Task Force Symp., vol 22, p 144–53Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Skousen J, Simmons J, McDonald LM, Ziemkiewicz P (2002) Acid–base accounting to predict post-mining drainage quality on surface mines. J Environ Qual 31:2034.  https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2002.2034 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Mack B, McDonald LM, Skousen J (2010) Acidity decay of above-drainage underground mines in West Virginia. J Environ Qual 39:1043.  https://doi.org/10.2134/jeq2009.0229 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Seredin VV, Dai S (2012) Coal deposits as potential alternative sources for lanthanides and yttrium. Int J Coal Geol 94:67–93.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coal.2011.11.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Papangelakis VG, Moldoveanu G. Recovery of rare earth elements from clay minerals. 1st Eur Rare Earth Resour Conf 2014:191–202Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Gupta T, Ghosh T, Akdogan G, Srivastava VK (2017) Characterizing rare earth elements in Alaskan coal and ash. Miner Metall Process 34:138–145.  https://doi.org/10.19150/mmp.7614 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Taylor SR (1964) Abundance of elements in the crust: a new table. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 28:1273–1285.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0016-7037(64)90129-2
  48. 48.
    Cravotta CA, Brady KB., Rose AW, Douds JB (1999) Frequency distribution of the pH of coal-mine drainage in pennsylvania. US Geol Surv Water-Resources Investig Report 99-4018A, pp 313–24Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Zhang W, Rezaee M, Bhagavatula A, Li Y, Groppo J, Honaker R (2015) A review of the occurrence and promising recovery methods of rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products. Int J Coal Prep Util 35:295–330.  https://doi.org/10.1080/19392699.2015.1033097 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Cravotta CA (2008) Dissolved metals and associated constituents in abandoned coal-mine discharges, Pennsylvania, USA. Part 2: geochemical controls on constituent concentrations. Appl Geochem 23:203–226.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeochem.2007.10.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Goode DJ, Cravotta CA, Hornberger RJ, Hewitt MA, Hughes RE, Koury DJ, et al (2013) Water budgets and groundwater volumes for abandoned underground mines in the Western Middle Anthracite Coalfield, Schuylkill, Columbia, and Northumberland Counties, Pennsylvania—preliminary estimates with identification of data needs. Reston, VAGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Denicola TA, Donovan JJ, Leavitt BR, Sharma S (2013) Geochemistry of mine pool discharges in the Pittsburgh Coal Basin Thesis Submitted to: The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science In Geology DepartmeGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Stewart BW, Capo RC, Hedin BC, Hedin RS (2016) Rare earth element resources in coal mine drainage and treatment precipitates in the Appalachian Basin, USA. Int J Coal Geol 169:28–39.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coal.2016.11.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Cordier DJ, Hedrick JB (2010) 2008 Minerals yearbook - rare earthsGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Cordier DJ (2011) 2009 Minerals yearbookGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Gambogi BJ, Cordier DJ (2012) 2010 Minerals yearbookGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Gambogi J (2013) 2011 Minerals yearbookGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Gambogi J (2013) 2012 Minerals yearbook - rare earthsGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Gambogi J (2016) 2013 Minerals yearbook - rare earthsGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Gambogi J (2014) 2014 Minerals yearbook - rare earthsGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Gambogi J (2018) 2015 Minerals yearbookGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Honaker RQ, Groppo J, Yoon R-H, Luttrell GH, Noble A, Herbst JA (2017) Process evaluation and flowsheet development for the recovery of rare earth elements from coal and associated byproducts. Miner Metall Process 34:107–115.  https://doi.org/10.19150/mmp.7610 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Noble A, Luttrell GH (2016) Micro-pricing: the value of trace rare earth elements in coal and coal byproducts. 2016 SME Annu Confrence Expo; Preprint N:1–6Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Binnemans K, Jones PT, Müller T, Yurramendi L (2018) Rare earths and the balance problem: how to deal with changing markets? J Sustain Metall 8:126–146.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s40831-018-0162-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Lifton J, Hatch G (2016) Technology Metals Research. http://www.techmetalsresearch.com/metrics-indices/tmr-advanced-rare-earth-projects-index/. Accessed 10/09/2017
  66. 66.
    Verbaan N, Bradley K, Brown J, Mackie S (2015) A review of hydrometallurgical flowsheets considered in current REE projectsGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    National Energy Technology Laboratory UD of E (2018) Rare earth element database. https://edx.netl.doe.gov/ree/?page_id=1587. Accessed 12/14/2018
  68. 68.
    Kim E, Osseo-Asare K (2012) Aqueous stability of thorium and rare earth metals in monazite hydrometallurgy: Eh-pH diagrams for the systems Th-, Ce-, La-, Nd- (PO4)-(SO4)-H2O at 25 °c. Hydrometallurgy 113–114:67–78.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hydromet.2011.12.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Gupta CKK, Krishnamurthy N (1992) Extractive metallurgy of rare earths. vol 37.  https://doi.org/10.1179/imr.1992.37.1.197.

Copyright information

© Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.West Virginia Water Research InstituteMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Virginia Tech Mining and Minerals EngineeringHolden Hall 100, Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations