Distribution of uranium, thorium and potassium in the Bayer process



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2nd Bauxite Residue Valorisation and Best Practices Conference


Uranium, thorium, potassium and their decay product mass flows were analysed in the Bayer process. Gamma-ray spectroscopy was used to measure the radionuclide content in samples provided by Aluminium of Greece and to model their mass flows. We observed that at any analysed stage, the radionuclide content does not exceed the allowed safety limits set in the European Basic Safety Standard. Another important observation is that a minor portion of uranium from bauxites (3%) ends up in alumina, while the rest is accumulated in the bauxite residue (BR). All of the 226Ra (long-lived decay product of uranium), as well as all decay products of thorium accumulated in the BR. We observed accumulation of 40K in the process liquors, while this radionuclide was not found in the alumina.