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Feasibility of leaching Rare Earth phosphates with concurrent precipitation of rare earth oxalates (Project Number: M0472).

Host University 

The University of Western Australia 

The Challenge 

Western Australia is rich in Rare Earth mineral resources, but the standard processes used to liberate these valuable and industrially important metals from ore minerals have high demands for energy, water and other resources, and can create environmentally harmful by-products.  

Key Findings 

  • Organic acids present a feasible and more environmentally-benign alternative to other reagents currently used to liberate Rare Earth elements from ore
  • The build-up of chemical reaction products on the surface of ore minerals during processing can significantly reduce the efficiency of Rare Earth extraction
  • This detrimental build-up can be reduced by use of an ester compound or by continuous agitation of the ore minerals and reagents during processing

Benefits to WA 

The chemical processing methods identified through Harry’s research can be adapted to increase the extraction efficiency of a range of ore types, and could be further developed to help support the emerging Critical Minerals sector in Western Australia. Harry has used the skills and knowledge developed through his PhD studies to establish a private research company based in WA, and is working to apply his findings to improving the minerals industry. 

Link to thesis 

Harry’s thesis can be accessed from the UWA Library via the link below: 

Page was last reviewed 18 October 2022

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