Significant concentrations of rare metals in the Asia-Pacific region's coal fields have been revealed by the scientists of the Far Eastern Federal University School of Engineering (FEFU SE) in collaboration with the researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), China, U.S., and Australia. The study of these geological resources is aimed at the search for and extraction of zirconium, niobium, uranium, and rare earth metals, which are of strategic importance for the production of high-tech elements.
Igor Chekryzhov, Senior Researcher, International Center of Mineral Raw Materials Processing and Secondary Raw Materials Recycling Technologies, FEFU SE; Researcher, Far Eastern Geological Institute (FEGI), Russian Academy of Sciences, and Viktor Nechaev, FEFU SE Associate Professor; Senior Researcher, FEGI Laboratory of Mineralogy, worked as a part of the international team.
The FEFU scientists jointly with the colleagues conducted the research of metal-bearing coal fields in Primorsky Krai and the southern part of China. As a result they concluded that due to the ancient (250 million years ago) and more modern (less than 50 million years) geological processes some coal fields were subject to mineralization. Thanks to this, industrially significant concentrations of mineral components were formed in coal and its enclosing rocks. Such deposits could contain more than ten kinds of rare metals.
"Interaction of crust and mantle not only led to formation of coal basins, but also played a significant role in the formation of extensive volcanic fields, as well as ore-generating hydrothermal activity," said Victor Nechaev. "The scale of these natural processes was huge and the economic benefits from the ores produced by them may also be considerable. It is particularly important that these metals are among the strategic ones necessary for high-tech industries.
It should be noted that the research has been carried out jointly with the Institute of Geology of Ore Deposits, Petrography, Mineralogy and Geochemistry RAS (Moscow), China University of Mining and Technology (PR China), University of New South Wales (Australia), and University of Kentucky (U.S.). The results of the work were published in the authoritative international scientific journal Gondvana Research with the impact-factor 8.743.