Porosity and Permeability of Round Top Mountain Rhyolite (Texas, USA) Favor Coarse Crush Size for Rare Earth Element Heap Leach
AbstractWater-saturation porosity and dye-penetration permeability measurements of Round Top Mountain rhyolite confirm that a ½-inch (13-mm) crush size would permit efficient acid heap leaching of yttrium and heavy rare earth elements (YHREEs) hosted in yttrofluorite, a YHREE-substituted variety of fluorite. Laboratory acid leaching has extracted up to 90% of the YHREEs. The bulk insoluble gangue mineralogy of the rhyolite, 90% to 95% quartz and feldspars, assures low acid consumption. Different crush sizes were weighed, soaked in water, and reweighed over time to determine water-penetration estimated porosity. Typical porosities were 1% to 2% for gray and 3% to 8% for pink varieties of Round Top rhyolite. The same samples were re-tested after soaking in dilute sulfuric to simulate heap leaching effects. Post-leach porosity favorably increased 15% in pink and 50% in gray varieties, due to internal mineral dissolution. Next, drops of water-based writing ink were placed on rhyolite slabs up to ~10 mm thick, and monitored over time for visual dye breakthrough to the lower side. Ink penetration through 0.5 to 2.5-mm-thick slabs was rapid, with breakthrough in minutes to a few hours. Pink rhyolite breakthrough was faster than gray. Thicker slabs, 4 to 10 mm, took hours to three days for breakthrough. Porosity and permeability of the Round Top rhyolite and acid solubility of the yttrofluorite host should permit liberation of YHREEs from the bulk rock by inexpensive heap leaching at a coarse and inexpensive nominal ½-inch (13-mm) crush size. The rate-limiting step in heap leach extraction would be diffusion of acid into, and back-diffusion of dissolution products out of, the crushed particles. The exceptional porosity and permeability that we document at Round Top suggest that there may be other crystalline rock deposits that economically can be exploited by a coarse-crush bulk heap leach approach. View Full-Text
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Negron, L.; Pingitore, N.; Gorski, D. Porosity and Permeability of Round Top Mountain Rhyolite (Texas, USA) Favor Coarse Crush Size for Rare Earth Element Heap Leach. Minerals 2016, 6, 16.
Negron L, Pingitore N, Gorski D. Porosity and Permeability of Round Top Mountain Rhyolite (Texas, USA) Favor Coarse Crush Size for Rare Earth Element Heap Leach. Minerals. 2016; 6(1):16.Chicago/Turabian Style
Negron, Lorraine; Pingitore, Nicholas; Gorski, Daniel. 2016. "Porosity and Permeability of Round Top Mountain Rhyolite (Texas, USA) Favor Coarse Crush Size for Rare Earth Element Heap Leach." Minerals 6, no. 1: 16.
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