Assessment of Viability of Coal Mines in Tanzania for Extraction of Rare Earth Elements
Keywords:Rare earth elements, coal, coal fly ash, X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, ICP-MS
This study aimed at determining the concentrations of rare earth elements (REEs) in coal and coal fly ash (CFA) from three coal mines in Tanzania: Kiwira, Ngaka and Rukwa. The goal was to assess if these resources could be commercially viable for extracting REEs. Coal and CFA samples were analysed using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). The total concentrations of REEs in the coal samples ranged from 89.48 parts per million (ppm) to 196.30 ppm, while in CFA samples, ranged from 362.55 ppm to 475.77 ppm. Computed percentage of critical REEs (REYdef, rel%) and outlook coefficient (Coutl) values ranged from 27.41% to 50.74% and 0.62 to 2.00, respectively. Based on the evaluation criteria proposed for assessing coal and coal ash as sources of REEs, the results suggest that the studied coal and CFA samples have the potential to be used as sources of REEs for economic development. These findings have important implications for the Tanzanian government and other relevant authorities, as they provide valuable insights into the feasibility of investing in the coal and coal ash as promising sources of REEs. This is particularly significant considering the high global demands for REEs.