Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 School of Mining Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Faculty of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran

3 The head of REE project, Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development & Renovation (Imidro)


The most extensive Iranian coal-bearing basin is located in an area of 30000 km2, situated approximately 75 km from the Tabas county, south Khorasan Province, Iran. In this work, the Tabas coal ash is studied and investigated for the purpose of determination of the rare earth elements (REE) content, and the identification of the distribution patterns of trace elements. The elemental and phase analysis experiments were conducted using the X-ray diffraction (XRD), inductively-coupled plasma spectroscopy (ICP-MS), wet chemical analysis, and field emission scanning electron microscopy equipped with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (FE-SEM/EDS) techniques. The XRD results showed that the phases in the Tabas coal ash were quartz, clay minerals, alkali feldspar, magnetite, and pyrite in order of abundance. The elemental analysis showed that the major elements were Si, Al, K, Fe, Mg, S, and Na, which was in good accordance with the chemical composition of the recognized minerals by the XRD method. The concentration of REEs was varied from 0.10 ppm (for Tm) to 68.48 ppm (for Ce), with an arithmetic mean of 14.19 ppm. The abundance of 16 REE elements was or even below the average of the earth crust abundances. Only one rare earth element (Samarium) was about 4.4 and 2.2 times more abundant than in the earth crust and in the world coking coal ashes. In order to further assess the occurrence states of REEs in each of detected mineral, the Fe-SEM/EDX method was used. The SEM/EDS analysis showed that REEs were mainly concentrated in the clay minerals.


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