A detailed assessment of global rare earth element resources: Opportunities and challenges

Weng, Z, Jowitt, S, Mudd, G and Haque, N 2015, 'A detailed assessment of global rare earth element resources: Opportunities and challenges', Economic Geology, vol. 110, no. 8, pp. 1925-1952.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title A detailed assessment of global rare earth element resources: Opportunities and challenges
Author(s) Weng, Z
Jowitt, S
Mudd, G
Haque, N
Year 2015
Journal name Economic Geology
Volume number 110
Issue number 8
Start page 1925
End page 1952
Total pages 28
Publisher Society of Economic Geologists
Abstract Rare earth elements (REE) are indispensable to infrastructure, technology, and modern lifestyles, which has led to an increasing demand for these elements. The current global rare earth oxides (REO) market is dominated by Chinese production, which peaked in 2006 at 133,000 tonnes REO per year, accounting for some 97.1% of global production, causing concern about the long-term supply of REE resources. Although the REE consist of 17 individual elements (15 lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium) that are hosted by numerous types of mineralization, the relatively modest scale of the global REE mining sector has limited our knowledge of REE mineral resources and mineralizing systems compared to metals such as copper and iron, which are produced in much larger quantities. In order to quantitatively analyze the mineralogy, concentrations, and geologic types of REE deposits, we compiled a global dataset of REE mineral resources based on the most recently available data (2013-2014). This compilation yields minimum global contained total rare earth oxides plus yttrium oxide (TREO + Y) resources of 619.5 Mt split between 267 deposits. Deposits with available grade and tonnage data (260 of the 267 deposits in our database) contain some 88,483 Mt of mineral resources at an average concentration of 0.63% TREO + Y, hosting 553.7 Mt TREO + Y. Of the 267 total deposits in our database, some 160 have mineral resources reported using statutory mining codes (e.g., JORC, NI43-101, SAMREC), with the remaining 107 projects having CRIRSCO-noncompliant mineral resources that are based on information available in the industry literature and peer-reviewed scientific articles. Approximately 51.4% of global REO resources are hosted by carbonatite deposits, and bastnäsite, monazite, and xenotime are the three most significant REE minerals, accounting for ≥90% of the total resources within our database.
Subject Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified
Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Database systems
Economic geology
Mineral industry
Monazite deposits
Phosphate minerals
Radioactive wastes
Rare earth elements
Rare earths
Yttrium alloys
Yttrium deposits
Yttrium oxide
DOI - identifier 10.2113/econgeo.110.8.1925
Copyright notice © 2015 Society of Economic Geologists, Inc..
ISSN 0361-0128
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