Pyrometallurgical Treatment of Apatite Concentrate with the Objective of Rare Earth Element Recovery: Part II
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Original versionJournal of Sustainable Metallurgy. 2017, 3 (4), 846-857. 10.1007/s40831-017-0148-y
Apatite, Ca5(PO4)3F, is a useful raw material for the production of both elemental phosphorus and phosphoric acid, and the mine tailings present at Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB (LKAB) in Kiruna, Sweden, represent a significant potential European source of apatite if upgraded to a concentrate. In the present study, pilot apatite concentrate made from the LKAB tailings has been pyrometallurgically treated using carbon to extract phosphorus without fluxing at temperatures exceeding 1800 °C, with the ultimate objective of recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) from the resulting slag/residue phases. Experimental behavior has been modeled using equilibrium thermodynamic predictions performed using HSC®. A process is proposed, and mass–energy balance presented, for the simultaneous production of P4 and CaC2 (ultimately for acetylene, C2H2, and PVC production) from apatite, producing a lime residue significantly enriched in REEs. Possible implications to kiln-based processing of apatite are also discussed.