Exploring High-Resolution Chemical Distribution Maps of Incompatible and Scarce Metals in a Nepheline Syenite from the Massif of “Serra de Monchique” (Portugal, Iberian Peninsula)

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Abstract

In this case study, 2D micro energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (µ-EDXRF) surveys were performed in the nepheline syenite (NS) of “Serra de Monchique” located in the southwest region of Portugal (Algarve, Iberian Peninsula). The results allow the identification in the mineral matrix of certain elements classified as critical raw materials (CRMs). Due to substitution effects, some scarce transition elements, such as Zn and Ni, are present and camouflaged in alkali silicate minerals, while others, such as Co, are included in ferromagnesian mineral phases. As expected, incompatible elements are preferably distributed on the surface of aluminosilicate mineral phases such as Rb and Ga, or exclusively in K-bearing feldspar phases, as it is the case of Sr. Interesting CRMs such as Ti, Zr, and Nb are well individualized in oxides, as well as in sphene and apatite. The detected antagonistic chemical distribution between Ti and Fe, and the good spatial relation between Ti and Ca confirms that Ti is present as sphene and, in areas with absent Si, probably occurs as rutile. Nb has a distribution pattern quite similar to Zr and occurs due to substitution effects. It was possible to conclude that there is probable co-existence of Zr-REE-Nb in specific mineral phases such as apatite, zircon, and other Zr-oxides. These results evidence and confirm NS as a potential source of multiple industrial minerals and distinct scarce elements which are incorporated in oxide or phosphate phases that can be more effectively separated in the beneficiation process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1178
Number of pages20
JournalMinerals
Volume12
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2022

Keywords

  • critical raw materials
  • industrial minerals
  • micro X-ray elemental mapping
  • micro X-ray image co-localization
  • RGB clustering image analysis
  • Zr-REE-Nb

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