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The mineral loparite (Ce, NA, Sr, Ca)(Ti, Nb, Ta, Fe+3)O3 is the principal ore of the light-group rare-earth elements (LREE) in Russia. The complex oxide has a perovskite (ABO3) structure with coupled substitutions, polymorphism, defect chemistry and a tendency to become metamict. The A site generally contains weakly bonded, easily exchanged cations of the LREE, Na and Ca. The B site generally contains smaller, highly charged cations of Ti, Nb or Fe+3. Mine production is from Russia's Kola Peninsula. Ore is beneficiated to produce a 95% loparite concentrate containing 30% rare-earth oxides. Loparite concentrate is refined by either a chlorination process or acid decomposition process to recover rare-earths, titanium, niobium and tantalum. Rare-earths are separated by solvent extraction and selective precipitation/dissolution. The concentrate is processed at plants in Russia, Estonia and Kazakstan.
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Loparite, a rare-earth ore (Ce, Na, Sr, Ca)(Ti, Nb, Ta, Fe+3)O3