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Journal Articles Nature Communications Year : 2020

Adsorption of rare earth elements in regolith-hosted clay deposits

Anouk M. Borst
  • Function : Author
Martin P. Smith
  • Function : Author
Adrian A. Finch
  • Function : Author
Cristina Villanova-De-Benavent
  • Function : Author
Peter Nason
  • Function : Author
Eva Marquis
  • Function : Author
Nicola J. Horsburgh
  • Function : Author
Kathryn M. Goodenough
  • Function : Author
Cheng Xu
  • Function : Author
Jindřich Kynický
  • Function : Author
Kalotina Geraki
  • Function : Author


Global resources of heavy Rare Earth Elements (REE) are dominantly sourced from Chinese regolith-hosted ion-adsorption deposits in which the REE are inferred to be weakly adsorbed onto clay minerals. Similar deposits elsewhere might provide alternative supply for these high-tech metals, but the adsorption mechanisms remain unclear and the adsorbed state of REE to clays has never been demonstrated in situ. This study compares the mineralogy and speciation of REE in economic weathering profiles from China to prospective regoliths developed on peralkaline rocks from Madagascar. We use synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopy to study the distribution and local bonding environment of Y and Nd, as proxies for heavy and light REE, in the deposits. Our results show that REE are truly adsorbed as easily leachable 8- to 9-coordinated outer-sphere hydrated complexes, dominantly onto kaolinite. Hence, at the atomic level, the Malagasy clays are genuine mineralogical analogues to those currently exploited in China.
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Dates and versions

insu-03669333 , version 1 (16-05-2022)





Anouk M. Borst, Martin P. Smith, Adrian A. Finch, Guillaume Estrade, Cristina Villanova-De-Benavent, et al.. Adsorption of rare earth elements in regolith-hosted clay deposits. Nature Communications, 2020, 11, ⟨10.1038/s41467-020-17801-5⟩. ⟨insu-03669333⟩
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