Camborne School of Mines, SoS RARE and Colorado School of Mines, Critical Materials Institute collaboration

Left to right. Professor Spiller, Colorado School of Mines, Portrait of Dr Kroll, Milly Owens, Camborne School of Mines, and Professor Anderson, Colorado School of Mines. Copyright Camilla Owens.
Left to right. Victoria Vaccarezza of KIEM and Milly Owens of SoS RARE at Arches National Park, Utah. Copyright Camilla Owens
Colorado School of Mines covered in snow in December. Copyright Camilla Owens

From the 7th of November until the 9th of December, I attended Colorado School of Mines (CoSM), as a visiting researcher at the Kroll Institute for Extractive Metallurgy (KIEM), where I was hosted by Professor Corby Anderson. Professor Anderson has recently conducted research on rare earth element beneficiation into both Mountain Pass Mine, California and Bear Lodge, Wyoming. Both Colorado School of Mines and the Critical Materials Institute are international collaborators of SoS Rare and my visit marked the start of a long term collaboration with the hope for other postgraduate students and staff from CMI coming to visit the SoS RARE universities.

During my time at CoSM I researched the fundamental surface behaviour of REE bearing minerals parisite, synchysite and apatite. This surface behaviour can indicate the chemical response to beneficiation and therefore the physical upgrading of rare earth element ores. Surface behaviour can be shown by zeta potential measurements, which have been previously investigated on the REE minerals xenotime, ancylite and bastnäsite. However this research was the first time parisite had been studied in such a fundamental way. Sadly the synchysite I was working on was highly contaminated with calcite and so I was unable to obtain measurements on a pure sample. Other micro-amounts of synchysite were too small to be used for analysis. Overall the lab work was highly successful with analysis ongoing at Camborne School of Mines.

During my time in Colorado I was invited to give a seminar to the department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering on SoS RARE, Camborne School of Mines and the beneficiation of the Songwe Hill ore. It was well received and allowed me to present new work on nanobubbles that I conducted at the Helmholtz Institute of Resource Technology Freiberg. It also allowed me to get feedback from REE processers on the progression of my work.

I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit Arches National Park and Canyonlands National park in Utah, which was fantastic. The geological structures there inspire even non-geologists like myself to a level of rock collecting.

My visit would not have been possible without the support of the CSM Trust Scholarship, Mkango Resources, SoS Rare and Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter. Special thanks go to Professor Anderson and Professor Spiller for hosting during my time at Colorado School of Mines. I also have to thank Dr Kathryn Hadler for her invaluable skype meetings during my time away.

Milly Owens, 9 December, 2016


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