The aim of this work was to achieve an understanding of the distribution of selected bauxite trace elements (gallium (Ga), vanadium (V), arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), rare earth elements (REEs), scandium (Sc)) in the Bayer process. The assessment was designed as a case study in an alumina plant in operation to provide an overview of the trace elements behaviour in an actual industrial setup. A combination of analytical techniques was used, mainly inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and optical emission spectroscopy as well as instrumental neutron activation analysis. It was found that Ga, V and As as well as, to a minor extent, Cr are principally accumulated in Bayer process liquors. In addition, Ga is also fractionated to alumina at the end of the Bayer processing cycle. The rest of these elements pass to bauxite residue. REEs and Sc have the tendency to remain practically unaffected in the solid phases of the Bayer process and, therefore, at least 98% of their mass is transferred to bauxite residue. The interest in such a study originates from the fact that many of these trace constituents of bauxite ore could potentially become valuable by-products of the Bayer process; therefore, the understanding of their behaviour needs to be expanded. In fact, Ga and V are already by-products of the Bayer process, but their distribution patterns have not been provided in the existing open literature.
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