Radioactive elements are widespread in a range of mineral deposits and while some mineral processing operations can concentrate these in the ore concentrate and/or the tailings it is problematic for occupational health and safety, regulatory compliance and optimum long-term storage options.

Based on their understanding of the mineralogy, researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ) have developed a two-step leaching process to remove radionuclide contamination from a range of ores, ore concentrates and tailings.  Both stages in the UQ process require only mild conditions with no harsh high temperature or pressure processing steps.

The technology is expected to be applicable across a wide range of ores, including phosphates, coal, copper, bauxite, phosphate rock, and ores containing tin, tantalum, lithium, niobium, rare earths and gold deposits.

Key features

  • Reduced radionuclide contamination in a wide range of complex ore bodies and tailings, including those containing lithium, rare earth elements and copper
  • Improved prospects for obtaining mining approvals and export permits
  • The University of Queensland process is low cost and effective when compared to competing processes.


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