Assessment of Efficiency of Rare Earth Elements Recovery from Lignite Coal Combustion Ash via Five-Stage Extraction

  • Ljiljana Miličić Institute for Testing of Materials IMS
  • Anja Terzić Institute for Testing of Materials IMS
  • Lato Pezo Institute of General and Physical Chemistry, University of Belgrade
  • Nevenka Mijatović Institute for Testing of Materials IMS
  • Ilija Brčeski Faculty of Chemistry, University of Belgrade
  • Nikola Vukelić Faculty of Physical Chemistry, University of Belgrade


Rare earth elements (REE) are frequently referred to as ingredients for enhancements in modern industry, as they are extensively applied in many industrial branches due to their accented electro-magnetic and optical properties. REE have end-utilizations as catalysts, magnets, and as dopants for ceramic materials. Rare earth minerals are scarce therefore the unconventional REE-containing resources such as waste materials and industrial byproducts are continuously being investigated. Coal combustion products comprise REE concentrations varying between 200 ppm and 1500 ppm. This quantity can be isolated though the extraction procedure. In this study, the five stages extraction was conducted on the coal combustion ash from the selected landfill site. The extractions of 32 elements (As, Ga, Ce, Be, Ge, Nd, Cr, Zr, Eu, Cu, Nb, Gd, Co, Mo, Dy, Li, Ag, W, Mn, Cd, Au, Ni, In, Hg, Pb, Sn, Tl, V, Sb, Th, Zn, and La) were conveyed. Chemical analyses were conducted via XRF, ICP-OES, ICP-MS, and AAS techniques. The complexity of the obtained data was examined by Principal component analysis and Cluster analysis in order to derive interconnections between quantity of elements and landfill characteristics, as well as mutual relationships among the elements of interest, and to assess the accomplishment of REE recovery from the coal ash.