Studies Of Rare Earth Elements And Associated Radioactivity In The Coastal Sand Of The Central And Western Regions Of Ghana

ABSTRACT

Beach sands are known host of different heavy minerals, which occur mostly as placer

deposits and are of great importance to the electronics, metallurgy, medical, defense,

and automobile industries. Typical examples of such heavy minerals are the rare

earth-associated minerals (e.g. monazite, bastnaesite, xenotime and euxenite). Some

of these rare earth elements-containing ores are known to occur in association with

naturally occurring radioactive uranium (U-238) and thorium (Th-232). Limited

studies are available on identification of rare earth element fingerprints in the coastal

sands of Ghana. Also, the relationship between the Naturally Occurring Radioactive

Materials (NORMs) and the Rare Earth Elements (REEs) in Ghanaian coastal sands

has not been well studied. The study developed an analytical procedure for mapping

out the composition of rare earth elements in beach sands via the pathfinder role of

naturally occurring radioactivity along the coast of the Central and Western regions of

Ghana. This was achieved through: (i) assessment of naturally occurring

radionuclides (238Th, 232Th and 40K) using Gamma Spectrometry and ascertaining the

presence of REEs-associated minerals using bromoform (density = 2.89 g/cm³) prior

to petrography of the heavy mineral concentrates; (ii) investigation of REEs in coarse,

medium and fine fractions using Lithium Metaborate Fusion Method using

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS); (iii) development of

chemical method in the separation of selected REEs (Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu); and

(iv) establishment of geospatial distribution pattern to aid exploration of REEs

minerals. Beach sand samples were collected from 15 locations in the Central region

(Gomoa Fetteh, Senya Beraku, Winneba, Mankwadze, Apam, Mumford, Dago, Akra,

Ekumpoano, Edumafa, Anomabu, Cape Coast, Elmina, Dutch Komenda and

Kafodzizi) and 10 locations in the Western region (Shama, Abuesi, Sekondi,

vii

Takoradi, Cape Three Points, Egyembra, Axim, Esiama and Sanzule) along the

coastline of Southwestern Ghana. The average concentrations of 238U, 232Th and 40K

in the beach sands of the Central and Western regions of Ghana were found to contain

the United Nations Scientific Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation

(UNSCEAR) recommended permissible levels (35; 30; and 400 Bq/Kg respectively)

for radionuclides; with mean activity concentrations (ranges) of 1.3 ± 0.47 to 31.50±

3.31 Bq/Kg (238U); 0.7± 0.04 to 71.70± 4.55 Bq/Kg (232Th); 73.9± 6.72 to 1775.5±

28.35 (40K) for the Central region. In the Western region, the mean activity

concentration ranged fom 1.0 ± 0.03 to 5.6± 0.24 Bq/Kg (238U); 0.8± 0.04 to 3.8± 0.14

Bq/Kg (232Th); and 18.6± 0.23 to 343.2± 18.35 (40K). Beach sand dose rate in the

Central region and Western region ranged from 4.13 to 132.39 (nGy/hr) and 1.78 to

19.32 (nGy/hr) respectively; with a total average across the two regions being 11.40

(nGy/hr). The annual effective dose in the Central region ranged from 0.0051 to

0.1624, while that for the Western region ranged from 0.002 to 0.024; total average

for the two regions was 0.014 mSv/Yr. High radioactivity levels (Bq/Kg) (238U; 232Th;

40K; Raeq) observed in the beach sands of Dago (31.5±3.31; 71.7±4.55;

1775.5±28.35; 258.21); Akra (4.1±1.13; 2.0±0.51; 81.6±6.39; 12.66); and

Ekumpoano (27.2±5.8; 6.2±1.20; 69.7±8.12; 33.67) of the Central region exceeded

the individual radioactivity levels of the Western region. Heavy minerals such as

Zircon, Rutile and Amphibole were identified in the beach sands of the Central and

Western regions. The minerals found are known to concentrate REEs and are

indicative of shore-derived minerals. Rare earth elements were found in beach sands

at both regions. Total Rare Earth Elements (TREEs) distribution in the beach sands of

the Central region ranged as coarse fraction (6.33 to 13.30 ppm); medium fraction

(8.56 to 53.15 ppm) and fine fraction (16.67 to 795.01 ppm). The sum of Light Rare

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Earth Elements (LREEs); Heavy Rare Earths (HREEs); and ratio of light to heavy

rare earth (LREE/HREE) distribution in the Central region were: coarse fraction (5.56

to 11.77 ppm; 0.64 to 1.53 ppm; 5.81to 9.89); medium fraction (7.72 to 48.13 pm;

0.84 to 5.02 ppm; 5.83 to 9.95); and fine fraction (14.98 to 727 ppm; 1.69 to 74.53

ppm; 4.43 to 10.79). The TREE distribution in the beach sands of the Western region

varies as follows; coarse (5.69 to 29.78 ppm); medium (9.51 to 85.58 ppm) and fine

fraction (24.3 to 86.28). The sum of light LREEs, HREEs and ratio of light to heavy

rare earth (LREE/HREE) distribution in the Western beach sands were: coarse

fraction (5.07 to 26.08 ppm; 0.62 to 3.70 ppm; 6.67 to 10.11); medium fraction (8.47

to 76.8ppm; 1.04 to 8.78 ppm; 3.97 to 9.56) and fine fraction (21.6 to 77.46 ppm; 2.7

to 17.63 ppm; 2.76 to 8.78). Despite the prominence of REE- fingerprints in the beach

sands of Dago, Akra and Ekumpoano in the Central region, the corresponding

increase in radioactivity concentrations at these locations (Dago, Akra and

Ekumpoano) suggest strong influence of the geology of these areas. The sharp

decrease in the concentration of total REEs in the beach sands of Akra shows an

anomaly despite the fact that the sampling points are along the same trend. The

geospatial observation of the coastline along the Central region showed that the

sampling location at Dago and Ekumpoano are on probable geological faults and have

differing geology. The study has also revealed that the radioactivity distribution in the

beach sands serves as pathfinders to potential rare earth elements deposits in the

Central region. Although heavy REEs were found in relatively higher concentrations

in the beach sands of the Western region, the REEs in the fine fractions of the Central

region exceeded that of the Western region. Consequently, the renewable energy

target which relies on selected rare earth elements is achievable if more resources are

committed towards potential sources of the REEs in-land.

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APA

ABEY, J (2021). Studies Of Rare Earth Elements And Associated Radioactivity In The Coastal Sand Of The Central And Western Regions Of Ghana. Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/studies-of-rare-earth-elements-and-associated-radioactivity-in-the-coastal-sand-of-the-central-and-western-regions-of-ghana

MLA 8th

ABEY, JOSHUA "Studies Of Rare Earth Elements And Associated Radioactivity In The Coastal Sand Of The Central And Western Regions Of Ghana" Afribary. Afribary, 20 Apr. 2021, https://afribary.com/works/studies-of-rare-earth-elements-and-associated-radioactivity-in-the-coastal-sand-of-the-central-and-western-regions-of-ghana. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

MLA7

ABEY, JOSHUA . "Studies Of Rare Earth Elements And Associated Radioactivity In The Coastal Sand Of The Central And Western Regions Of Ghana". Afribary, Afribary, 20 Apr. 2021. Web. 20 May. 2024. < https://afribary.com/works/studies-of-rare-earth-elements-and-associated-radioactivity-in-the-coastal-sand-of-the-central-and-western-regions-of-ghana >.

Chicago

ABEY, JOSHUA . "Studies Of Rare Earth Elements And Associated Radioactivity In The Coastal Sand Of The Central And Western Regions Of Ghana" Afribary (2021). Accessed May 20, 2024. https://afribary.com/works/studies-of-rare-earth-elements-and-associated-radioactivity-in-the-coastal-sand-of-the-central-and-western-regions-of-ghana