Leaching of rare earth elements (REEs) from lake sediments around Eppawala phosphate deposit, Sri Lanka: A secondary source for REEs

N.P. Dushyantha, N.P. Ratnayake, H.M.R. Premasiri, I.M.S.K. Ilankoon, P.V.A. Hemalal, C.L. Jayawardena, Rohana Chandrajith, L.P.S. Rohitha, A.M.K.B. Abeysinghe, D.M.D.O.K. Dissanayake, P.G.R. Dharmaratne, A.S. Ratnayake, N.M. Batapola

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Rare earth elements (REEs) are widely employed in a spectrum of high-tech applications. Since primary REE resources are limited, secondary REE sources will be crucial to reduce future supply chain gap between REE demand and supply, which is currently about 3000 t per year. In this context, lake sediments around Eppawala Phosphate Deposit (EPD) in Sri Lanka could be considered as a potential secondary REE source since a man-made water canal running across the EPD transports REE-rich materials to the lake sediments. The average total REE (ΣREE) concentration of the downstream surface lake sediments was 804 mg/kg. The REEs were present in lake sediments as 3 fractions, namely, ion-adsorbed, colloidal, and mineral bound fractions. Ion-adsorbed fraction was assessed using less expensive, easy, and environmentally friendly ion-exchangeable leaching by a solution of (NH4)2SO4 under optimum conditions. Experimental results revealed that 34% of ΣREE was leached as ion-adsorbed fraction. In addition, the maximum leachable REE content (i.e. ion-adsorbed and colloidal fractions) was determined as 78% of ΣREE through HCl leaching under optimum conditions. Therefore, acid leaching was proven to be the best leaching process and the results in this preliminary study could be useful to assess low-grade geological resources, especially sediments and soils around major phosphate deposits with similar geological settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105751
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Acid leachable REEs
  • Ion-exchangeable REEs
  • Lake sediments
  • Rare earth elements
  • Secondary rare earth resources

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