Scientists have discovered how to extract rare earth elements from acid mine drainage

CLEAN TECHNICA | Scientists have found a way to extract rare earth elements (REE) from acid mine drainage, mining.com reports. Researchers at Penn State University detailed their findings in a paper published in the Chemical Engineering Journal. They’ve developed a two-stage treatment process for acid mine drainage which allows them to recover higher amounts of REEs. They are able to do this using smaller amounts of chemicals than before.


The paper noted that the acid mine drainage (AMD) from coal mining operations in the Appalachian area could be rich in REEs due to the high concentration of the minerals there. Further, it is already being collected and treated due to environmental concerns.

Residue is created when iron sulfide (pyrite) is unearthed from mining activity and is allowed to interact with the air and the water. This makes the mineral oxidize and it creates sulfuric acid that breaks down the surrounding rocks. This results in toxic metals dissolving into the water.


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