Rare Earth mineral -Rare Elements Discovered in Georgia kaolin mines
“We were interested in looking at the very course, sand-sized material from the kaolin ore that they call grit. It accounts for about 10 percent of the mined material and is removed before they make finished kaolin products for a variety of applications, such as paper, paints, adhesives, plastics, ceramics, etc.,” said Dr. W. Crawford Elliott, senior author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Geosciences at Georgia State. “They gave us samples of the grit. When we processed these samples, we found a particular enrichment in the heavy rare-earth elements, gadolinium through lutetium. Enrichment in the heavy rare-earth elements is interesting and useful because in most cases, the Earth’s crust is enriched in the lighter rare-earth elements. The heavy rare-earth elements tend to be more technologically important.
“After we did a heavy liquid separation on that material, we found the Buffalo Creek Kaolin Member is about 100 times more enriched in the heavy rare-earth elements relative to concentrations in the upper continental crust. Our work suggests a way to obtain heavy rare-earth elements from kaolin ore, which hasn’t been done before. This constitutes a new resource for the rare-earth elements, which we are getting all from China.”