M.I. Leybourne – Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute; Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada
Canada does not currently produce rare earth elements (REE) but does contain resources. With increasing demand for rare earth elements for various purposes in the green technology industry, combined with issues around critical minerals, Canada would benefit from a domestic source. The poorly-documented REE-bearing mineral bastnaesite (REE (CO3) F), is the REE ore mineral in many deposits, including the T-zone of the Nechalacho deposit in the Northwest Territories. The Nechalacho deposit is located near Thor Lake, approximately 100 km from Yellowknife, NWT. There is limited knowledge regarding the reaction mechanisms and solubility of bastnaesite. The objective of this project is to investigate the consequences of extraction and crushing of bastnaesite, which may result in the release of environmentally hazardous elements (Th, F, REE). As a first step, analysis using laser ablation and solution ICP-MS will be used to characterize the bastnaesite. Dissolution rates and reaction mechanisms of REE-bearing samples will be assessed through a series of mixed flow dissolution experiments. The dissolution experiments will determine the effect of fluid composition, temperature, grain size, and variation in mineral composition on mineral dissolution rates and rate of REE release. These experiments will shed light on the potential release rates of elements from weathering of bastnaesite at near-surface conditions.