Unlocking where Rare Earths sit in mineral crystal structures

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Anouk spent a week at the ANKA Light Source at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology in Germany to continue a series of synchrotron-based studies of eudialyte-hosted REE ores. This visit was part of an ongoing collaboration with Platon Gamaletsos at the Center for Electron Nanoscopy, DTU Denmark to study the micro/nano-scale distribution of REE and Th in eudialyte ores using a combination of advanced electron microscopic techniques (TEM) and synchrotron X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). The synchrotron is a powerful X-ray tool which can be used for microscale elemental mapping and element-specific measurements of, for example, coordination numbers and bond distances. Data can be used to work out more precisely where elements of interest are hosted inside the crystal structure. With the excellent technical support from the local beamline scientists, a successful week of analyses was concluded and Anouk returned with X-ray absorption data for Y, Nd, Th, Mn and Fe in eudialyte-bearing samples from different localities and bauxite residues from Greece. These will be combined with data from two earlier sessions at Diamond Light source (the only UK-based synchrotron) to determine, among other things, whether light and heavy rare earths occupy different crystallographic sites in the eudialyte structure, and how Th and REE are distributed in eudialyte replacement products. Highlights will be presented at upcoming conferences including the Nordic Geological Winter Meeting in Copenhagen and MDSG in Brighton (see details of these conferences below).

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