The Life Cycle Assessment of Rare Earth Oxides Production In Bayan Obo

B. L. Zhou, Z. X. Li, Y. Q. Zhao, & S. Q. Wang
Source: B. L. Zhou, Z. X. Li, Y. Q. Zhao, & S. Q. Wang, The Life Cycle Assessment of Rare Earth Oxides Production In  Bayan Obo, Journal of Mechanical Engineering Research and Developments, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 832-839, 2016. 
Document Type: Research Article
Abstract: Rare earth elements (REEs) have been widely applied in hybrid vehicles, energy-efficient lighting, aerospace and metallurgy. With the global clean technology market grows, the REEs demand is likely to grow in the next years. Currently, global production of REEs is mainly concentrated in China, and Bayan Obo mine situated in Inner Mongolia supply about half of China’s total production, the environment issues associated with its rare earth oxides production has also receive close attention from the society. This paper analyzes the process flow and energy consumption in the production of REO in Bayan Obo mine, uses life cycle assessment methodology widely used in the international market for evaluation of environmental impacts overall evaluates the environmental impacts of the REO production in Bayan Obo mine, the results indicated that the environmental impacts from smelting are higher than that in mining and dressing, and the main environmental impacts are concentrated in global warming, acidification, human toxicity and resource depletion, the results provide a valuable data for assessing environmental impacts in rare earth industry and downstream industry based on REEs.

Keywords: Bayan Obo; Rare earth oxides; Life cycle assessment; Sulfuric acid process.