Rare Earth mineral -Rare Elements Discovered in Georgia kaolin mines

The world is full of wonders. It gives us a lot of unique gemstones and mineral information when we look at it to search. It leaves us astonished occasionally. There are many undiscovered facts about minerals or elements. Recently, a new deposit of rare earth elements has been discovered at Georgia State University.

The mother earth has many rare earth minerals and elements which are used in different inventions. The earth has approximately 17 rare elements. It includes 15 elements of the lanthanide series (atomic numbers 57 to 71 on the periodic table), plus scandium (Sc) and yttrium (Y). The heavy rare Earth elements include atomic numbers 64 to 71 on periodic table i.e from gadolinium (Gd) to lutetium (Lu).

Georgia State University is a place that has high-density minerals in Georgia Kaolin mines. It has rich deposits of rare-earth elements or rare earth minerals. This includes the list of the most demanding elements which are used.  They are used in developing critical products like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents, pressure sensors, portable X-ray machines,  monitors and television screens, rechargeable battery electrodes, optical lenses, fluorescent lamps, X-ray intensifying screens, medical lasers, fiber optics, and permanent magnets.

Recent studies and research has indicated the rich rare earth minerals and elements in Georgia Kaolin mines. The company naming " Thiele Kaolin Co" has been involved in mining for kaolin in two quarries near Sandersville, Ga., They provided mineral samples to the researchers of Georgia State for analysis. The minerals were analyzed and identified by using  X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy and chemical analysis. The new findings have been published in the journal Clays and Clay Minerals. This research and studies show the new potential source of rare earth minerals and rare earth elements.

“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.”

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