Toshiba Corp developed a technology to recover rare earth materials and rare metals from solution from which uranium has been extracted.
After rhenium is removed from the solution, dysprosium and neodymium are recovered from the residual liquid by using a fused-salt electrolysis method. The company will conduct field tests of the technology in Kazakhstan with help from Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC).
At uranium mines in Kazakhstan, uranium is extracted from uranium ores by using sulfuric acid, and uranium is absorbed and recovered by using ion-exchange resin in the solution, according to Toshiba. The solution from which uranium has been removed contains rare earth materials and rare metals. But they are currently disposed of because it is difficult to recover them.
If the new technology becomes widely used at uranium mines in Kazakhstan, it will recover enough amounts of rare earth materials to provide about 5% of the rare earth materials that are used for rare-earth magnets in Japan, the company said.
Toshiba created the "Rare Earth Technology Development Team" at its Power and Industrial Systems Research and Development Center Nov 1, 2010. It aims to use the new technology to recover and sell rare earth materials and rare metals and explore new supply sources in Kazakhstan.