Iron metallurgy slags as a potential source of critical elements - Nb, Ta and REE

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The recovery of valuable metals from metallurgical slag disposals is a promising option to protect natural resources, limited due to technology development and increased consumption. The Ad-hoc Working Group on Defining Critical Raw Materials within the Raw Materials Supply Group has proposed a list of critical elements which have the greatest economic importance and meet the requirements of sustainable development in Europe. The goal of this study was to examine steelmaking- and blast-furnace slags from metallurgical processes to determine concentrations of elements of the greatest criticality for Poland, e.g. Nb, Ta and REE, and to discuss the viability of their recovery. Slag analyses indicate enrichment of REE relative to UCC, NASC and average chondrite compositions in blast-furnace slags and Nb and Ta in steelmaking slags. To make recovery of these critical elements reasonable and profitable, it is recommended that they be recovered together with other useful raw materials.

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