Skip to main content Accessibility help

A review of the potential for rare-earth element resources from European red muds: examples from Seydişehir, Turkey and Parnassus-Giona, Greece

  • Éimear A. Deady (a1), Evangelos Mouchos (a2), Kathryn Goodenough (a3), Ben J. Williamson (a2) and Frances Wall (a2)...


Rare-earth elements (REE) are viewed as 'critical metals' due to a complex array of production and political issues, most notably a near monopoly in supply from China. Red mud, the waste product of the Bayer process that produces alumina from bauxite, represents a potential secondary resource of REE. Karst bauxite deposits represent the ideal source material for REE-enriched red mud as the conditions during formation of the bauxite allow for the retention of REE. The REE pass through the Bayer Process and are concentrated in the waste material. Millions of tonnes of red mud are currently stockpiled in onshore storage facilities across Europe, representing a potential REE resource. Red mud from two case study sites, one in Greece and the other in Turkey, has been found to contain an average of ∼1000 ppm total REE, with an enrichment of light over heavy REE. Although this is relatively low grade when compared with typical primary REE deposits (Mountain Pass and Mount Weld up to 80,000 ppm), it is of interest because of the large volumes available, the cost benefits of reprocessing waste, and the low proportion of contained radioactive elements. This work shows that ∼12,000 tonnes of REE exist in red mud at the two case study areas alone, with much larger resources existing across Europe as a whole.


Corresponding author



Hide All
Akcil, A., Tuncuk, A., Okudan, D. and Deveci, H. (2013) Waste to resource: evaluation of electrofiltration dust in Bayer Process. Pp. 7580 in: Proceedings of the World Resources Forum 2013. Davos, Switzerland, 6-9 October 2013.
Akinci, A. and Artir, R. (2008) Characterization of trace elements and radionuclides and their risk assessment in red mud. Materials Characterization, 59, 417421.
Alonso, E., Sherman, A.M., Wallington, T.J., Everson, M.P., Field, F.R., Roth, R. and Kirchain, R.E. (2012) Evaluating Rare Earth Element Availability: A Case with Revolutionary Demand from Clean Technologies. Environmental Science and Technology, 46, 34063414.
Anagnostou, C. (2010) Bauxite resource exploitation in Greece vs. Sustainability. Pp. 24252436 in: Bulletin of the Geological Society of Greece. 43. Proceedings of the 12th International Congress, Patras, Greece.
Anton, Á.D., Klebercz, O., Magyar, Á., Burke, I.T., Jarvis, A.P., Gruiz, K. andMayes, W.M. (2014) Geochemical recovery of the Torna—Marcal river system after the Ajka red mud spill, Hungary. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 16, 26772685.
Atasoy, A. (2007) The comparison of the Bayer Process wastes on the base of chemical and physical properties. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, 90, 153158.
Bárdossy, G. (1979) Growing significance of bauxites. Episodes, 2, 2225
Bárdossy, G. (1982) Karst Bauxites, Bauxite Deposits on Carbonate Rocks. Elsevier, 444 pp.
Bárdossy, G. and Pantó, G. (1973) Trace mineral and element investigation on bauxites by electron probe. Pp. 47-53 in: 3rd International Congress, ICSOBA, (International Committee for Study of Bauxite, Alumina & Aluminium). Nice, France.
Bárdossy, G., Panto, G. and Varhegyi, G. (1976) Rare metals in Hungarian bauxites and conditions of their utilization. Pp. 221-231 in: Travaux ICSOBA (International Committee for Study of Bauxite, Alumina & Aluminium). Zagreb, Yugoslavia.
Binnemans, K. and Jones, P.T. (2015) Rare Earths and the Balance Problem. Journal of Sustainable Metallurgy, 1, 2938.
Binnemans, K., Jones, P.T., Blanpain, B., Van Gerven, T., Yang, Y., Walton, A. and Buchert, M. (2013a) Recycling of rare earths: a critical review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 51, 122
Binnemans, K., Pontikes, Y., Jones, P.T., Van Gerven, T. and Blanpain, B. (2013b) Recovery of rare earths from industrial waste residues: a concise review. Pp. 191-205 in: Proceedings of the Third International Slag Valorisation Symposium. Leuven, Belgium.
Binnemans, K., Jones, P.T., Blanpain, B., Van Gerven, T. and Pontikes, Y (2015) Towards zero-waste valorisa¬tion of rare-earth-containing industrial process resi¬dues: a critical review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 99, 1738.
Bland, W. and Rolls, D. (1998) Weathering: An Introduction to the Scientific Principles. Arnold, UK, 271 pp.
Bogatyrev, B.A., Zhukov, V.V. and Tsekhovsky, Y.G. (2009) Formation conditions and regularities of the distribution of large and superlarge bauxite deposits. Lithology and Mineral Resources, 44, 135151.
Boni, M., Rollinson, G., Mondillo, N., Balassone, G. and Santoro, L. (2013) Quantitative mineralogical characterization of karst bauxite deposits in the southern Apennines, Italy. Economic Geology, 108,813833.
Borra, C.R., Pontikes, Y., Binnemans, K. and Van Gerven, T (2015) Leaching of rare earths from bauxite residue (red mud). Minerals Engineering, 76, 2027
Bosák, P., Ford, D., Głazek, J. and Horáček, I. (1989) Paleokarst a systematic and regional review. Elsevier, 725 pp.
Bourbos, E., Giannopoulou, I., Karatonis, A., Panias, D. and Paspaliaris, I. (2014) Electrodisposition of rare earth metals in ionic liquids. Pp. 156-162 in: ERES2014: 1st European Rare Earth Resources Conference. Milos, Greece.
British Geological Survey (2012) Risk List 2012. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, UK.
British Geological Survey (2015) World mineral produc¬tion 2009-2013. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, UK.
CREEN [Canadian Rare Earth Elements Research Network] (2013) Progress Report Number 1, Canada.
Davris, P., Balomenos, E. and Panias, D. (2014) Leaching of rare earths from bauxite residues using imidazolium based ionic liquids. Pp. 241-252 in: ERES2014: 1st European Rare Earth Resources Conference. Milos, Greece.
Derevyankin, V.A., Porotnikova, T.P., Kocherova, E.K., Yumasheva, I.V. and Moiseev, V.E. (1981) Behaviour of scandium and lanthanum in the production of alumina from bauxite. Izvestiya Vysshikh Uchebnykh Zavedenii, Tsvetnaya Metallurgiya, 8689.
Doutsos, T., Koukouvelas, I.K. andXypolias, P. (2006) A new orogenic model for the External Hellenides. Pp. 507-520 in: Tectonic Development of the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 260(i).
Economopoulou-Kyriakopoulou, N. (1991) A compara¬tive geochemical and mineralogical study ofbauxitic horizons in central Greece. PhD Thesis, National Technical University of Athens, Faculty of Mining Engineering and Metallurgy, Athen., 119 pp.
European Commission (2013) Critical Metals in the Path towards the Decarbonisation of the EU Energy Sector. European Commission, 244 pp.
European Commission (2014) Report on critical raw materials for the EU Report of the ad hoc working group on defining critical raw materials. European Commission, 41 pp.
Fleet, A.J. (1984) Aqueous and sedimentary geochemistry of the rare earth elements. Pp. 343373 in: Rare Earth Element Geochemistry (P. Henderson, editor). Elsevier.
Gamaletsos, P., Godelitsas, A., Chatzitheodoridis, E. and Kostopoulou, D. (2007) Laser μ-ramen investigation of Greek bauxites from the Parnassos-Ghiona active mining area. Pp. 736-746 in: Bulletin of the Geological Society of Greece, 40. Proceedings of the 11th International Congress, Athens, Greece.
Gelencsér, A., Kováts, N., Turóczi, B., Rostási, Á., Hoffer, A., Imre, K., Nyiró-Kósa, I., Csákberényi-Malasics, D., Tóth, Á., Czitrovszky, A., Nagy, A., Nagy, S., Ács, A., Kovács, A., Ferincz, Á., Hartyáni, Z. and Pósfai, M. (2011) The red mud accident in Ajka (Hungary): Characterization and potential health effects of fugitive dust. Environmental Science and Technology, 45, 16081615.
Goodenough, K.M., Schilling, J., Jonsson, E., Kalvig, P., Charles, N., Tuduri, J., Deady, É.A., Sadeghi, M., Schiellerup, H., Müller, A., Bertrand, G., Arvanitidis, N., Eliopoulos, D.G., Shaw, R.A., Thrane, K. and Keulen, N. (2016) Europe's rare earth resource potential: an overview of metallogenic provinces and their geodynamic setting. Ore Geology Reviews, 72, 838856.
Gow, N.N., Lozej, G.P. (1993) Bauxite. Geoscience Canada, 20, 916.
Graedel, T.E. (2014) Metal resources, use and criticality. Pp. 119 in: Critical Metals Handbook (G. Gunn, editor). First Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Gräfe, M. and Klauber, C. (2011) Bauxite residue issues: IV Old obstacles and new pathways for in situ residue bioremediation. Hydrometallurgy, 108,4659
Hamada, T. (1986) Environmental management of bauxite residue. Pp. 109-117 in: Proceedings of the International Conference on Bauxite Tailings. The Jamaica Bauxite Institute, The University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica.
Hanilçi, N. (2013) Geological and geochemical evolution of the Bolkardagi bauxite deposits, Karaman, Turkey: Transformation from shale to bauxite. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 133,118137
Hatch, G.P. (2012) Dynamics in the global market for rare earths. Elements, 8, 341346
Hind, A.R., Bhargava, S.K. and Grocott, S.C. (1999) The surface chemistry of Bayer process solids: a review. Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 146,359374
Horkel, A. (2010) Notes on the geology and minerals resource potential of selected Turkish bauxite deposits. Jahrbuch der Geologischen Bundesanstalt, 150,343350
Humphries, M. (2013) Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain. Congressional Research Service report no. 41347, United States Congress, 31 pp.
Institute of Geological Sciences (1978) World Mineral Statistics 1970—74. Institute of Geological Sciences, UK.
International Aluminium Institute (2014) Bauxite Residue Management: Best Practice. International Aluminium Institute, London., 32 pp.
International Marine Organisation (1972) International Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter. International Marine Organisation, London.
Johannesson, K.H., Lyons, W.B., Stetzenbach, K.J. and Byrne, R.H. (1995) The solubility control of rare earth elements in natural terrestrial waters and the signifi¬cance of PO4” and COl∼ in limiting dissolved rare earth concentrations: A review of recent information. Aquatic Geochemistry, 1, 157173
Johannesson, K.H., Stetzenbach, K.J., Hodge, V.F. and Lyons, W.B. (1996) Rare earth element complexation behavior in circumneutral pH groundwaters: assessing the role of carbonate and phosphate ions. Earth Planet Science Letters, 139,305319
Jordens, A., Cheng, Y.P. and Waters, K.E. (2013) A review of the beneficiation of rare earth element bearing minerals. Minerals Engineering, 41,97114
Kalaitzidis, S., Siavalas, G., Skarpelis, N., Araujo, C.V. and Christanis, K (2010) Late Cretaceous coal overlying karstic bauxite deposits in the Parnassus-Ghiona Unit, Central Greece: Coal characteristics and depositional environment. International Journal of Coal Geology, 81,211226
Karadag, M.M., Kiipeli, §., Arýk, F., Ayhan, A., Zedef, Y and Döyen, A. (2009) Rare earth elemen. (REE) geochemistry and genetic implications of the Mortas bauxite deposit (Seydisehir/Konya — Southern Turkey). Chemie der Erde — Geochemistry, 69,143159
Klauber, C.,Gräfe, M. and Power, G. (2011) Bauxite residue issues: II. Options for residue utilization. Hydrometallurgy, 108,1132
Klyucharev, D.S., Volkova, N.M. and Comyn, M.F. (2013) The problems associated with using non-conventional rare-earth minerals. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 133,138148
Laskou, M. (1991) Concentrations of rare earths in Greek Bauxites. Acta Geologica Hungarica, 34,395404
Laskou, M. (2005) Pyrite-rich bauxites from the Parnassos-Ghiona zone, Greece. Pp. 10071010 in: 8th SGA Meeting, Mineral Deposits Research Meeting the Global Challenge, Beijing, August 1821.
Laskou, M. and Andreou, G. (2003) Rare earth elements distribution and REE-minerals from the Parnassos-Ghiona bauxite deposits, Greece. Pp. 8992 in: Mineral Exploration and Sustainable Development: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial SGA Meeting, Athens, Greece, 24-28 August 2003, Volume 2.
Laskou, M. and Economou-Eliopoulos, M. (2007) The role of microorganisms on the mineralogical and geochemical characteristics of the Parnassos-Ghiona bauxite deposits, Greece. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 93, 6777
Laskou, M. and Economou-Eliopoulos, M. (2013) Bio-mineralization and potential biogeochemical pro¬cesses in bauxite deposits: Genetic and ore quality significance. Mineralogy and Petrology, 107, 471–186.
Laskou, M., Economou-Eliopoulos, M. and Mitsis, I. (2010) Bauxite ore as an energy source for bacteria driving iron-leaching and bio-mineralization. Hellenic Journal of Geosciences, 45,163174
Lymperopoulou, T. (1996) Determination and extraction of rare earth elements from bauxites and red mud. Unpublished doctoral thesis, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Athens.
Maksimovic, Z. and Pantó, G. (1978) Minerals of the rare-earth elements in karstic bauxites: synchysite-(Nd), a new mineral from Grebnik deposit. Pp. 540-552 in: 4th International Congress, ICSOBA, (International Committee for Study of Bauxite, Alumina & Aluminium), Athens, Greece.
Maksimovic, Z. and Panto, G. (1991) Contribution to the geochemistry of the rare earth elements in the karst-bauxite deposits of Yugoslavia and Greece. Geoderma, 51, 93109.
Maksimovic, Z. and Pantó, G. (1996) Authigenic rare earth minerals in karst-bauxites and karstic nickel deposits. Pp. 257259 in: Rare Earth Minerals, Chemistry, Origin and Ore Deposits. Volume 7. (F.A. Jones, F. Wall and C.T. Williams, editors). First Edition. Springer Science & Business Media.
Maksimovic, Z. and Roaldset, E. (1976) Lanthanide elements in some Mediterranean karstic bauxite deposits. Pp. 199-220 in: Travaux ICSOBA, (International Committee for Study of Bauxite, Alumina & Aluminium), Zagreb, Croatia.
Mameli, P., Mongelli, G., Oggiano, G. and Dinelli, E. (2007) Geological, geochemical and mineralogical features of some bauxite deposits from Nurra (Western Sardinia, Italy): Insights on conditions of formation and parental affinity. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 96,887902
Marmolejo-Rodríguez, A.J., Prego, R., Meyer-Willerer, A., Shumilin, E. and Sapozhnikov, D. (2007) Rare earth elements in iron oxy—hydroxide rich sediments from the Marabasco River-Estuary System (pacific coast of Mexico). REE affinity with iron and aluminium. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 94,4351
McDonough, W F. and Sun, S.-s. (1995) The composition of the Earth. Chemical Geology, 120,223253
Melfos, V and Voudouris, P.C. (2012) Geological, mineralogical and geochemical aspects for critical and rare metals in Greece. Minerals, 2, 300317.
Milačič, R., Zuliani, T and Ščančar, J. (2012) Environmental impact of toxic elements in red mud studied by fractionation and speciation procedures. Science of the Total Environment, 426,359365.
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (2014) There are not enough rare earth elements for cutting-edge industries. ( environment/ecotopics/rareearth/why/index.html accessed February 2015).
Mondillo, N., Balassone, G., Boni, M. and Rollinson, G. (2011) Karst bauxites in the Campania Apennines (southern Italy): A new approach. Periodico di Mineralogia, 80, 407432.
Mongelli, G. (1997) Ce-anomalies in the textural components of Upper Cretaceous karst bauxites from the Apulian carbonate platform (southern Italy). Chemical Geology, 140,6979
Mongelli, G. and Acquafredda, P. (1999) Ferruginous concretions in a Late Cretaceous karst bauxite: composition and conditions of formation. Chemical Geology, 158, 315320.
Mongelli, G., Boni, M., Buccione, R. and Sinisi, R. (2014) Geochemistry of the Apulian karst bauxites (southern Italy): Chemical fractionation and parental affinities. Ore Geology Reviews, 63,921.
Elsevier, B.V. Nesbitt, H.W. (1979) Mobility and fractionation of rare earth elements during weathering of a granidiorite. Nature, 279,206210
O'Driscoll, M. (2011) Elmin bauxite sees the light. Industrial Minerals, 3, 4245
Ochsenkühn-Petropoulou, M.,Ochsenkühn, K. and Luck, J. (1991) Comparison of inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry with inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry and instrumental neutron activation analysis for the determination of rare earth elements in Greek bauxites. Spectrochimica Acta Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy, 46,5165
Ochsenkühn-Petropulu, M., Lyberopulu, T and Parissakis, G. (1994) Direct determination of lanthanides, yttrium and scandium in bauxites and red mud from alumina production. Analytica Chimica Acta, 296,305313
Ochsenkühn-Petropulu, M., Lyberopulu, T and Parissakis, G. (1995) Selective separation and deter¬mination of scandium from yttrium and lanthanides in red mud by a combined ion exchange/solvent extraction method. Analytica Chimica Acta, 315,231237
Ochsenkühn-Petropulu, M., Lyberopulu, T., Ochsenkühn, K.M. and Parissakis, G. (1996) Recovery of lantha¬nides and yttrium from red mud by selective leaching. Analytica Chimica Acta, 319,249254
Ochsenkühn-Petropulu, M., Hatzilyberis, K.S., Mendrinous L.N. and Salmas, C.E. (2002) Pilot-plant investigation of the leaching process for the recovery of scandium from red mud. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, 41,57495801.
Ohta, A. and Kawabe, I. (2001) REE(III) adsorption onto Mn dioxide (δ-MnO2) and Fe oxyhydroxide: Ce(III) oxidation by δ-MnO2 . Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 65, 695703.
Okay, A.I. (2008) Geology of Turkey: A synopsis. Anschnitt, 21,1942
Orbite Aluminae Incorporated (2015) Process for Extracting Aluminum from Aluminous Ores. PatentNo. 14/371,364.
Öztürk, H., Hein, J., Hanilçi, N. (2002) Genesis of the Dogankuzu and Mortas bauxite deposits, Taurides, Turkey: Separation of Al, Fe, and Mn and implications for passive margin metallogeny. Economic Geology, 97, 10631077.
Patterson, S.H. (1967) Bauxite reserves and potential aluminum resources of the World. 184 pp. Bulletin No. 1228. US Government Print Office, USA.
Petrascheck, W.E. (1989) The genesis of allochthonous karst-type bauxite deposits of southern Europe. Mineralium Deposita, 81, 7781.
Petrascheck, W.E. and Mack, E. (1978) Palaeogeographie, verteilung und qualität der bauxite im Parnass-Kjona Gebirge. Pp. 526539 in: 4th International Congress, ICSOBA, (International Committee for Study of Bauxite, Alumina & Aluminium).Athens, Greece.
Power, G., Gräfe, M. and Klauber, C. (2011) Bauxite residue issues: I. Current management, disposal and storage practices. Hydrometallurgy, 108,3345
Qu, Y and Lian, B. (2013) Bioleaching of rare earth and radioactive elements from red mud using Penicillium tricolor RM-10. Bioresource Technology, 136,1623.
Ritter, S. (2014) Making the most of red mud. Chemical and Engineering News, 92, 3335
Robertson, A.H.F.. and Mountrakis, D. (2006) Tectonic development of the Eastern Mediterranean region: an introduction. Pp. 19 in: Tectonic Development of the Eastern Mediterranean Region. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 260(1).
RUSAL (2014) UC RUSAL launches pilot unit at Urals aluminium smelter for the production of scandium concentrate. [press release] ( press-center/news_details.aspx?id= 10866= 13 accessed February 2015)
Sengör, A.M.C.. and Yilmaz, Y (1981) Tethyan evolution of Turkey: A plate tectonic approach. Tectonophysics, 75, 181241.
Simandl, G.J. (2014) Geology and market-dependent significance of rare earth element resources. Mineralium Deposita, 49, 889904.
Smirnov, D.I. and Molchanova, T.V. (1997) The investi¬gation of sulphuric acid sorption recovery of scandium and uranium from the red mud of alumina production. Hydrometallurgy, 45, 249259.
Temur, S., Orhan, H. and Deli, A. (2009) Geochemistry of the limestone of Mortas Formation and related terra rossa, Seydisehir, Konya, Turkey. Geochemistry International, 47, 6793.
Tsakanika, L.V., Ochsenkühn-Petropoulou, M.T. and Mendrinos, L.N. (2004) Investigation of the separation of scandium and rare earth elements from red mud by use of reversed-phase HPLC. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 379,796802
Tsirambides, A. and Filippidis, A. (2012) Metallic mineral resources of Greece. Central European Journal of Geosciences, 4, 641650
Valeton, I., Biermann, M., Reche, R. and Rosenberg, F. (1987) Genesis of nickel laterites and bauxites in Greece during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and their relation to ultrabasic parent rocks. Ore Geology Reviews, 2, 359404.
Vukotic, P. (1983) Determination of rare earth elements in bauxites by instrumental neutron activation ana¬lysis. Journal of Radioanalytical Chemistry, 78, 105115.
Wagh, A.S. and Pinnock, W.R. (1987) Occurrence of scandium and rare earth elements in Jamaican bauxite waste. Economic Geology, 82, 757761
Wall, F. (2014) Rare earth elements. Pp. 312-339 in: Critical Metals Handbook (G. Gunn, editor). First Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Deady et al. supplementary material
Supplementary Table

 Excel (60 KB)
60 KB

A review of the potential for rare-earth element resources from European red muds: examples from Seydişehir, Turkey and Parnassus-Giona, Greece

  • Éimear A. Deady (a1), Evangelos Mouchos (a2), Kathryn Goodenough (a3), Ben J. Williamson (a2) and Frances Wall (a2)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed