Rare Metals Found, an Opportunity for Montenegro Economy

By , 10 Apr 2018, 11:24 AM Business
Rare Metals Found, an Opportunity for Montenegro Economy Photo: Anto Baković

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If the lower quality and substandard bauxites are proven to hold economically interesting concentrations of lanthanide and other microelements, there is a possibility to use them independently of the aluminium industry

The Geological Research Institute has confirmed Montenegrin deposit of so-called rare elements (REE), which encompass 17 chemical elements which are increasingly sought on the global markets, which can constitute a chance for Montenegro economy.

The main global producer of REE is China, which has limits on the export of these raw materials, while increased demand is creating problems in supplying the global industry, especially high technology industries, where REE have a broad application.

Experts of the Geological Research Institute of Montenegro point out the development opportunity based on further research and valorization of REE from deposits in the red Jurassic bauxite in central Montenegro, as well as the red mud basin of the former Aluminium Conglomerate.

The Institute’s research, financed via the Geological Research Program of the Economy Ministry, led for the last dozen years by dr Slobodan Radusinović, has confirmed the presence of rare elements – lanthanide in significant concentrations in all researched bauxite deposits in 37 locations in mining areas of mountains Vojnik-Maganik and Prekornica, with average overall content of scandium, yttrium and la-series elements (lanthanide) ranging from 0,06 to 0,18 percent.

“In this way, a basis was created for further research of a new mineral resource in Montenegro, whose mineral and economic potential and significance are yet to be determined, taking into consideration gradual and systematic research,” claims Radusinović.

The results on the content and distribution of REE gained in researched deposits in mining areas Vojnik-Maganik and Prekornica indicate significant potential, as well as possibility of valorization of bauxite with high REE content, primarily light lanthanides and yttrium.

“Supporting the justification of further inquiry into the possibility of REE production from bauxite is the fact that Montenegro holds limited quantities of high-quality bauxite with applications in the aluminium industry (deposits: Zagrad, Biočki Stan and Đurakov Do). The largest part of the discovered deposits belong to the class of substandard reserves, which cannot be used in the aluminium industry,” noted Radusinović.

If the lower quality and substandard bauxites are proven to hold economically interesting concentrations of lanthanide and other microelements, there is a possibility to use them independently of the aluminium industry.

The Jurassic red bauxites are broadly disperse in central Montenegro, and the highest and most significant concentration of red bauxites are found in the mining area Vojnik-Maganik. The issue of the possibility of extraction of REE and other microelements form red mud in the Aluminium Conglomerate has also been discussed.

“Total amount of red mud in basins A and B is around 7.5 million tons and can be a significant resource, considering the research undertaken in Greece. That study proved elevated concentration of REE in red mud compared to composite bauxites used to produce clay in the Aluminium S.A. factory in Greece. Red mud is classified in Montenegro as a technical mineral raw material,” said Radusinović.

Lanthanides are also significant due to their influence on optical characteristics of various materials (especially glass, various minerals and synthetic gemstones), as well as their luminescence characteristics. They are used to construct thermal electric materials (for sensors) and thermal emission materials (for emitting electric diodes and electronic microscopes). Neodymium is used in the construction of optically activated laser components. In modern times, REE and its alloys are used in the production of solar panels, fluorescent lights, hybrid automobiles, laptop computers, LCD monitors, smartphones and television sets.

“In smartphones, next to europium and terbium in LCD screens, a neodymium magnet is used, lanthanide in NiMh batteries, yttrium for camera lenses and samarium for speakers. In the production of LCD screens of special importance are terbium, europium, cerium and yttrium. Erbium is used in the production of optic fibres, whose unique optical characteristics are a light amplifier and enable super-fast telecommunication, including broadband and cable television. It is important to note REE metals are also important in ‘green’ and energy efficient technologies, such as wind turbines, energy storage technology, oil industry and catalysts in the automobile industry. In automobile production, especially electric and hybrid vehicles, REE metals are used for electric engines, generators and other components,” explained Radusinović.

Translated from Vijesti Online, for the original click here.

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