Market Analysis for Urban Mining of Phosphogypsum

Kathrin Layr

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


Phosphogypsum is a by-product of the phosphorus fertilizer production. Due to its radionuclide and heavy metal content Phosphogypsum tailings pose both environmental and health risks. Gypsum also is a valuable raw material used for several applications though, primarily in construction. To reduce Phosphogypsum tailing growth and resulting environmental risks, a study was conducted to analyze the gypsum market. Both demand and supply, especially in ESEE (Eastern and Southeastern Europe) were examined. Furthermore, Phosphogypsum was analyzed using a SEM to qualitatively evaluate grain size and form as well as detect potentially harmful or unwanted trace elements. The EDX-spectrum showed various trace elements (e.g. Ba, Fe, P, Sr). No radioactive elements were found using this method. Nevertheless, some potentially environmentally hazardous elements were detected (e.g. lead). Some valuable trace elements were found (e.g. Rare Earth Elements). Their technical and economic extractability was not determined though. The predominant grain size fraction was silt. Both the gypsum supply market and the gypsum demand were investigated. The reduction of coal-fired power plants in Europe causes a decline of gypsum produced by flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) and total gypsum production. Phosphogypsum could fill that synthetic gypsum production gap. On the side of demand, Phosphogypsum could substitute natural gypsum in several applications. These include gypsum boards. Their demand has risen in recent years due to the increase of so-called "dry" construction methods in Europe. Gypsum is also a component of cement. Cement production in Europe, and especially ESEE is also on the rise. Thirdly, gypsum is used in the treatment of sodic and saline soils. Soil salinization is rising in Europe due to climate change. A possible amendment for saline or sodic soils is treatment with gypsum. A decrease in supply and increase in demand has shown to result in a growing market for gypsum in following years. Though the demand does not meet the total Phosphogypsum production, the annual tailing growth could be reduced. Impurities and grain size call for primary treatment of Phosphogypsum though. Finally, social acceptance by the public was found to be a major risk for Phosphogypsum recycling.
Translated title of the contributionMarktanalyse für die Verwendung von Phosphorgips
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Montanuniversität
  • Melcher, Frank, Supervisor (internal)
Award date18 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

embargoed until null


  • Phosphogypsum
  • Urban Mining
  • Recycling
  • Market Analysis
  • Construction Raw Materials

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