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Corresponding author: e-mail, yulingxie63@hotmail.com

Abstract

China is the world’s leading rare earth element (REE) producer and hosts a variety of deposit types. Carbonatite-related REE deposits, the most significant deposit type, include two giant deposits presently being mined in China, Bayan Obo and Maoniuping, the first and third largest deposits of this type in the world, respectively. The carbonatite-related deposits host the majority of China’s REE resource and are the primary supplier of the world’s light REE. The REE-bearing clay deposits, or ion adsorption-type deposits, are second in importance and are the main source in China for heavy REE resources. Other REE resources include those within monazite or xenotime placers, beach placers, alkaline granites, pegmatites, and hydrothermal veins, as well as some additional deposit types in which REE are recovered as by-products.

Carbonatite-related REE deposits in China occur along craton margins, both in rifts (e.g., Bayan Obo) and in reactivated transpressional margins (e.g., Maoniuping). They comprise those along the northern, eastern, and southern margins of the North China block, and along the western margin of the Yangtze block. Major structural features along the craton margins provide first-order controls for REE-related Proterozoic to Cenozoic carbonatite alkaline complexes; these are emplaced in continental margin rifts or strike-slip faults.

The ion adsorption-type REE deposits, mainly situated in the South China block, are genetically linked to the weathering of granite and, less commonly, volcanic rocks and lamprophyres. Indosinian (early Mesozoic) and Yanshanian (late Mesozoic) granites are the most important parent rocks for these REE deposits, although Caledonian (early Paleozoic) granites are also of local importance. The primary REE enrichment is hosted in various mineral phases in the igneous rocks and, during the weathering process, the REE are released and adsorbed by clay minerals in the weathering profile. Currently, these REE-rich clays are primarily mined from open-pit operations in southern China.

The complex geologic evolution of China’s Precambrian blocks, particularly the long-term subduction of ocean crust below the North and South China blocks, enabled recycling of REE-rich pelagic sediments into mantle lithosphere. This resulted in the REE-enriched nature of the mantle below the Precambrian cratons, which were reactivated and thus essentially decratonized during various tectonic episodes throughout the Proterozoic and Phanerozoic. Deep fault zones within and along the edges of the blocks, including continental rifts and strike-slip faults, provided pathways for upwelling of mantle material.

Introduction

China is responsible for more than 95% of the world’s rare earth element (REE) production (Tse, 2011) and contains a number of giant deposits. As of the end of 2011, the REE resource in China was about 136 million metric tons (Mt). The Bayan Obo and Maoniuping REE deposits are the first and third largest REE deposits in the world, respectively. In addition, yttrium (Y) reserves in China are 0.22 Mt, which represents more than one-third of the world’s Y reserve of 0.54 Mt (U.S. Geological Survey, 2012).

World REE resources are contained dominantly in bastnaesite and monazite. Bastnaesite-rich (REE[CO3]F) deposits in China contain most of the economic REE resources, whereas monazite-rich (REE[PO4]) deposits are less significant. Large numbers of REE deposits have been mined in China, which include the economically important carbonatite-related and ion adsorption (IAR) deposit types, as well as less significant residual placer, monazite or xenotime placer, beach placer, pegmatite-hosted, alkaline granite-related, and hydrothermal vein deposits. Other REE production is as a by-product from the development of other deposit types. Carbonatite-related REE deposits are the most important for the light REE (LREE), whereas the IAR deposits are second in significance and are the most important heavy REE (HREE) source in China. A large amount of literature, both in English and Chinese, has been published about the REE deposits in China, but details regarding geologic settings, geochronology, and structural controls are still controversial.

Focusing on the available information regarding the tectonic, geologic, and geochemical features of known REE provinces and deposits, this paper provides an up-to-date review of REE deposits in China. The various types of REE resources are summarized in Tables 1 to 5, and the relative importance of each type is displayed in Figure 1.

Deposit Types and Recognized Resources

The carbonatite-related REE deposits (Table 1) comprise the main source of LREE resources in China. The two largest of these are the Bayan Obo deposit in Inner Mongolia and the Maoniuping deposit in Sichuan province, and they are described in detail below. As of the end of 2011, about 20 carbonatite-related REE deposits were stated to contain total REE resources of more than 134 million metric tons (Mt) as rare earth oxides (REO), representing 98.40% of the total REE resource in China (Fig. 1). In addition to the two giant deposits, other carbonatite-related REE deposits are associated with the Tan-Lu fault system in eastern China, the eastern Qinling-Dabie orogenic belt, and carbonatite complexes in the northern part of Xinjiang in northwestern China (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1.

Relative resource percentages of various REE deposit types in China. Abbreviations: BR = deposits with REE as by-products, CR = carbonatite-related REE deposits, IAR = ion adsorption REE deposits, PR = placer and beach placer REE deposits, OR = other and unknown types of REE deposits.

Fig. 1.

Relative resource percentages of various REE deposit types in China. Abbreviations: BR = deposits with REE as by-products, CR = carbonatite-related REE deposits, IAR = ion adsorption REE deposits, PR = placer and beach placer REE deposits, OR = other and unknown types of REE deposits.

The IAR deposits (Table 2) are generally of low grade, but the HREE and LREE, as well as Y, can be easily extracted from the clays and, therefore, these have been referred to as the easily worked deposits of REE (Neary and Highley, 1984). In the past few decades, more than 169 IAR deposits have been exploited. Because of the confidential nature of the mining activity, most tonnage data for IAR deposits are not available. Based on limited published material, the estimated total REE resource in IAR deposits, including some resources in associated residual placers, is more than 1.3 Mt or about 0.97% of the total REE resource of China (Fig. 1). These deposits are spatially restricted to southeastern China (Fig. 3).

Placer and beach placer REE deposits (Table 3) contribute very minor amounts of REE to China’s overall total resource. The REE placers are distributed mostly in the South China block, where they have a close spatial association with the IAR deposits (Fig. 4). Additional minor placers are in the North China block and Alpine-Himalayan orogen. The REE are concentrated in resistant minerals, such as monazite and xenotime. As of the end of 2011, 26 placer and beach placer REE deposits were recognized and they had a combined resource of 0.12 Mt, accounting for 0.09% of the total REE resource of China.

Carbonatite-Related REE Deposits in China

Table 1.
Carbonatite-Related REE Deposits in China
No Deposit Location Main
commodity
Average grade (REO wt %) Total resource (REO) Reporting
year
Reference
C1 Baynan Obo (Main and East orebody) Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 6 57.4 Mt 2014 Fan et al. (2014)
Baynan Obo (West orebody) Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 1.158-3.026 60.67 Mt 2005 *
Bayan Obo surrounding area (including Boluotou, East
Jielegele, etc.)
Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 3.14 10.47 Mt 2009 *
C2 Baerzhe (801) Zhalute, Inner Mongolia Nb / 245,757 t (Nb2O5) 2009 *
C3 Taohualashan Alashanyouqi, Inner Mongolia Nb / 7,760 t (Nb2O5) 1975 *
C4 Dulahala Baotou, Inner Mongolia Nb, Fe, REE 0.3-3 21.76 Mt 1967 *
C5 Ganluodi Xichang, Sichuan province Nb, Zr / / 1966 *
C6 Lizhuang Mianning, Sichuan province LRE, Nb, Th, Ba 1.47-1.63 5,764 t 2006 *
C7 Muluo Mianning, Sichuan province LREE, fluorite / 0.1 Mt 2011 *
C8 Maoniuping Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 2.95 3.17 Mt 2010 **
C9 Nanhe Mianning, Sichuan province LREE, Y 5.25-6.4 14,725 t 2005 *
C10 Haha Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 3.15-4.05 966 t 2005 *
C11 Baozishan Mianning, Sichuan province LREE / / 1966 *
C12 Sanchahe Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 1.86 6,177 t 2009 *
C13 Dalucao Dechang, Sichuan province LREE, Pb 5.21 81,556 t 2007 *
C14 Chishan Weishan, Shandong province LREE 3.25 119,962 t 1975 *
C15 Longbaoshan Cangshan, Shandong province LREE 2.1-3.54 12,431 t 1997 *
C16 Badoushan Zibo, Shandong province LREE 0.13-0.21 1,952 t 2001 *
C17 Hujiazhuang Laiwu, Shandong province Nb, REE, P 1 9,994 t 1973 *
C18 Miaoya Zhushan, Hubei province REE, Nb 1.5 392,974 t 1981 *
C19 Jiertage Kashi area, Xinjing REE 3.46 5,678 t 2002 Zou et al. (2002)
C20 Sitaduwei Baicheng, Xinjing REE 0.037-0.111 REE occurence 2002 Zou et al. (2002)
No Deposit Location Main
commodity
Average grade (REO wt %) Total resource (REO) Reporting
year
Reference
C1 Baynan Obo (Main and East orebody) Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 6 57.4 Mt 2014 Fan et al. (2014)
Baynan Obo (West orebody) Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 1.158-3.026 60.67 Mt 2005 *
Bayan Obo surrounding area (including Boluotou, East
Jielegele, etc.)
Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 3.14 10.47 Mt 2009 *
C2 Baerzhe (801) Zhalute, Inner Mongolia Nb / 245,757 t (Nb2O5) 2009 *
C3 Taohualashan Alashanyouqi, Inner Mongolia Nb / 7,760 t (Nb2O5) 1975 *
C4 Dulahala Baotou, Inner Mongolia Nb, Fe, REE 0.3-3 21.76 Mt 1967 *
C5 Ganluodi Xichang, Sichuan province Nb, Zr / / 1966 *
C6 Lizhuang Mianning, Sichuan province LRE, Nb, Th, Ba 1.47-1.63 5,764 t 2006 *
C7 Muluo Mianning, Sichuan province LREE, fluorite / 0.1 Mt 2011 *
C8 Maoniuping Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 2.95 3.17 Mt 2010 **
C9 Nanhe Mianning, Sichuan province LREE, Y 5.25-6.4 14,725 t 2005 *
C10 Haha Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 3.15-4.05 966 t 2005 *
C11 Baozishan Mianning, Sichuan province LREE / / 1966 *
C12 Sanchahe Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 1.86 6,177 t 2009 *
C13 Dalucao Dechang, Sichuan province LREE, Pb 5.21 81,556 t 2007 *
C14 Chishan Weishan, Shandong province LREE 3.25 119,962 t 1975 *
C15 Longbaoshan Cangshan, Shandong province LREE 2.1-3.54 12,431 t 1997 *
C16 Badoushan Zibo, Shandong province LREE 0.13-0.21 1,952 t 2001 *
C17 Hujiazhuang Laiwu, Shandong province Nb, REE, P 1 9,994 t 1973 *
C18 Miaoya Zhushan, Hubei province REE, Nb 1.5 392,974 t 1981 *
C19 Jiertage Kashi area, Xinjing REE 3.46 5,678 t 2002 Zou et al. (2002)
C20 Sitaduwei Baicheng, Xinjing REE 0.037-0.111 REE occurence 2002 Zou et al. (2002)

Notes: * = Online material from National Geology Archives of China (http://www.ngac.cn/) and the references herein; ** = 109 Geological Brigade of Sichuan Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resource (2010); “/” = grade or tonnage data not acquired

Fig. 2.

The distribution of carbonatite-related REE deposits in China with tectonic setting (for deposit numbers, see Table 1; tectonic setting based on Kusky et al., 2007). Abbreviations: AHO = Alpine-Himalayan orogen, CAO = Central Asia orogen, CC = Cathaysia craton, CCO = central China orogen, NCC = North China craton, SGO = Songpan-Ganzi orogen, TM = Tarim block, YC = Yangtze craton.

Fig. 2.

The distribution of carbonatite-related REE deposits in China with tectonic setting (for deposit numbers, see Table 1; tectonic setting based on Kusky et al., 2007). Abbreviations: AHO = Alpine-Himalayan orogen, CAO = Central Asia orogen, CC = Cathaysia craton, CCO = central China orogen, NCC = North China craton, SGO = Songpan-Ganzi orogen, TM = Tarim block, YC = Yangtze craton.

Ion Adsorption-Type (including associated residue placer) REE Deposits in China1

Table 2.
Ion Adsorption-Type (including associated residue placer) REE Deposits in China1

graphic

Fig. 3.

The distribution of ion adsorption REE deposits in China with tectonic settings (for deposit numbers, see Table 2; tectonic setting same as Fig. 2). Green filled circle = deposit, blue filled square = key deposits, red line = regional fault (based on Ren et al., 1999); red dashed line = estimated regional fault based on RS image.

Fig. 3.

The distribution of ion adsorption REE deposits in China with tectonic settings (for deposit numbers, see Table 2; tectonic setting same as Fig. 2). Green filled circle = deposit, blue filled square = key deposits, red line = regional fault (based on Ren et al., 1999); red dashed line = estimated regional fault based on RS image.

Fig. 4.

The distribution of placer, beach placer, and other types of REE deposits in China with tectonic settings (tectonic setting same as Fig. 2)

Fig. 4.

The distribution of placer, beach placer, and other types of REE deposits in China with tectonic settings (tectonic setting same as Fig. 2)

Other REE resources in China include those in pegmatites, alkaline granites, and hydrothermal veins (Table 4, Fig. 4). A total of 27 REE deposits of these types or types of unclear affinity have been reported in China, with an additional combined REE resource of 0.24 Mt or 0.18% of the total REE resource of China. Some resources are also defined as by-products in the mining of phosphate, bauxite, uranium, and kaolinite deposits. Twelve deposits with REE as a byproduct commodity (Table 5) have a reported combined REO resource of 0.5 Mt, accounting for 0.37% of the total REE resource of China.

Carbonatite-Related LREE deposits

Carbonatite-related LREE deposits in China occur in continental rifts and in collisional orogens and were formed throughout the past 1.5 billion years during the Mesoproterozoic Jinningian (e.g., Bayan Obo), late Paleozoic Hercynian (e.g., Miaoya), late Mesozoic Yanshanian (e.g., Chishan), and Cenozoic Himalayan (e.g., Maoniuping) orogenies. These different aged deposits are typically associated with belts of REE deposits, such as the Bayan Obo-Langshan,Weishan-Laiwu-Zibo (e.g., Chisan), and Mianning-Dechang (e.g., Maoniuping) REE belts. Miaoya, however, is, at least presently, an isolated occurrence in the Qinling-Dabie orogen.

The Bayan Obo-Langshan REE belt is located along the northern margin of the North China block and is about 400 km long from east to west. The belt is dominated by the giant Bayan Obo deposit (57.4 Mt REO), which was discovered as an iron deposit in 1927 and began producing REE as a byproduct 30 years later (Tse, 2011). In recent years, the REE resources in Bayan Obo have taken more of an important role. Although iron is important, the REE have become a major commodity in this area and some solely REE orebodies are being exploited. Although there are still different opinions regarding the mineralization age and the genesis of the Bayan Obo deposit, the majority of researchers now suggest that the REE mineralization is related to Mesoproterozoic carbonatites and alkaline rocks that formed in a continental margin rift environment (Zhang et al., 1994; Fan et al., 2006; Le Bas, 2006; Yang et al., 2011). There are some features at the deposit that resemble those of the iron oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) deposits (e.g., Wu, 2008), a class of deposits that shows some overlap with the carbonatite-related REE deposits (e.g., Groves et al., 2010). The northern margin of the North China block and the Bayan Obo deposit itself both were subjected to early and late Paleozoic magmatism (Zhang et al., 1994; Liu et al., 2004) and deformation (Zhang et al., 2003), which have led to much of the complexity and controversy associated with geochronological studies of the deposit.

Placer and Beach Placer-Type REE Deposits in China 1

Table 3.
Placer and Beach Placer-Type REE Deposits in China 1
No Deposit Location Main commodities Average grade (g/m3) Total resource (t) Reporting year
S1 Mengwang monazite deposit Menghai, Yunnan province Moz, Zr, Ilm, Ru Moz: 620; Zr: 690; Ilm: 5,052 Moz: 12,645; Zr: 13,863; Ilm: 101,522 1963
S2 Niulanyong monazite deposit Yangjiang, Guangdong province Moz / Moz: 5,725 1959
S3 Helukou fergusonite deposit Jianghua, Hunan province Fet Fet: 50-150 Fet: 172,039 1961
S4 Qiancaochong-Yangjiaping fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet, Xt, Moz, Zr, Nt, Ilm, Cas, Wof Fet: 50-70 Fet: 6 1960
S5 Shilichong fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet, Moz Fet: 50; Moz: 40 Fet: 2; Moz: 4 1960
S6 Dazipengwa fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet Fe: 50; Moz: 1,120 Fet: 16; Moz: 48 1960
S7 Yiyang river deposit Anren, Hunan province Zr, Moz / Zr: 470; Moz: 80; Ilm:13,660 1960
S8 Liuli’ao monazite deposit Tongcheng, Hubei province Moz, Zr, Ru / Moz: 1,375 1960
S9 Juanshui monazite deposit Chongyang, Hubei province Moz, Zr, Gar, Ru Moz: 334-611 Moz: 13,937 1960
S10 Wudong monazite deposit Xinxing, Guangdong province Moz / 747 1955
S11 Sheyu monazite and zircon deposit Xinxing, Guangdong province Moz, Zr, Ilm Moz: 312; Zr: 441 Moz: 8,975; Zr: 11,777; Ilm: 7,541 1960
S12 Jiaokeng deposit Taishan, Guangdong province Fet Fet: 88.44 Fet: 18 1960
S13 Gudoutianchang REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr, Cas Fet: 56-251;
Moz: 3.8-20.6; Zr: 2.2; Cas: 42.5-248.4
Fet: 4; Cas: 5 1959
S14 Taling fergusonite deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz Fet: 93; Moz: 190; Zr: 165 Fet: 85; Moz: 174; Zr: 151 1960
S15 Sancun REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Fet: 58.4; Moz: 207; Zr: 67 Moz: 939; Fet: 183; Zr: 533 1960
S16 West bank of Tan river (Tanjiangxi’an) monazite and zircon deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Moz, Zr Moz: 350-228; Zr: 291-168 Moz: 952; Zr: 924; Fet: 6 1960
S17 Hengshui REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Fet: 5.4-95.9; Moz: 11.15-260.48; Zr: 24.08-255 Fet 34; Moz 75 1959
S18 Shikengkou deposit Taishan, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Moz: 52.6; Fet: 39 Fet: 9 1960
S19 Goupili monazite deposit Heyuan, Guangdong province Moz / / 1958
S20 Jingqu Ta-niobite deposit Zhaoqing, Guangdong province Tn, Moz, Ilm Tn: 119 Nb2O5: 5; Ilm: 3; Moz: 2 1972
S21 Madianhe xenotime deposit Dianbai, Guangdong province Xt, Moz, Zr Xt: 111-133; Moz: 90-350; Zr: 744-860; Ilm: 450-463 Xt: 1,069; Ilm: 4,437 1973
S22 Wuhe deposit Guangning, Guangdong province Moz, Xt, Zr, Ilm Moz: 423; Xt: 132; Zr: 100-200; Ilm: 150-300 Moz: 495; Xt: 155 1970
S23 Nansandao deposit Zhanjiang, Guangdong province Xt, Moz Zr: 1,021-1,882; Moz: 118-354 Zr: 19,836 1959
S24 Zhapozhen deposit Yangjiang, Guangdong province Moz Moz: 550 Moz: 236 1959
S25 Wangcungang deposit Dianbai, Guangdong province Zr, Moz, Ilm Zr: 1,640; Moz: 222 Zr: 2,304 1959
No Deposit Location Main commodities Average grade (g/m3) Total resource (t) Reporting year
S1 Mengwang monazite deposit Menghai, Yunnan province Moz, Zr, Ilm, Ru Moz: 620; Zr: 690; Ilm: 5,052 Moz: 12,645; Zr: 13,863; Ilm: 101,522 1963
S2 Niulanyong monazite deposit Yangjiang, Guangdong province Moz / Moz: 5,725 1959
S3 Helukou fergusonite deposit Jianghua, Hunan province Fet Fet: 50-150 Fet: 172,039 1961
S4 Qiancaochong-Yangjiaping fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet, Xt, Moz, Zr, Nt, Ilm, Cas, Wof Fet: 50-70 Fet: 6 1960
S5 Shilichong fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet, Moz Fet: 50; Moz: 40 Fet: 2; Moz: 4 1960
S6 Dazipengwa fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet Fe: 50; Moz: 1,120 Fet: 16; Moz: 48 1960
S7 Yiyang river deposit Anren, Hunan province Zr, Moz / Zr: 470; Moz: 80; Ilm:13,660 1960
S8 Liuli’ao monazite deposit Tongcheng, Hubei province Moz, Zr, Ru / Moz: 1,375 1960
S9 Juanshui monazite deposit Chongyang, Hubei province Moz, Zr, Gar, Ru Moz: 334-611 Moz: 13,937 1960
S10 Wudong monazite deposit Xinxing, Guangdong province Moz / 747 1955
S11 Sheyu monazite and zircon deposit Xinxing, Guangdong province Moz, Zr, Ilm Moz: 312; Zr: 441 Moz: 8,975; Zr: 11,777; Ilm: 7,541 1960
S12 Jiaokeng deposit Taishan, Guangdong province Fet Fet: 88.44 Fet: 18 1960
S13 Gudoutianchang REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr, Cas Fet: 56-251;
Moz: 3.8-20.6; Zr: 2.2; Cas: 42.5-248.4
Fet: 4; Cas: 5 1959
S14 Taling fergusonite deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz Fet: 93; Moz: 190; Zr: 165 Fet: 85; Moz: 174; Zr: 151 1960
S15 Sancun REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Fet: 58.4; Moz: 207; Zr: 67 Moz: 939; Fet: 183; Zr: 533 1960
S16 West bank of Tan river (Tanjiangxi’an) monazite and zircon deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Moz, Zr Moz: 350-228; Zr: 291-168 Moz: 952; Zr: 924; Fet: 6 1960
S17 Hengshui REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Fet: 5.4-95.9; Moz: 11.15-260.48; Zr: 24.08-255 Fet 34; Moz 75 1959
S18 Shikengkou deposit Taishan, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Moz: 52.6; Fet: 39 Fet: 9 1960
S19 Goupili monazite deposit Heyuan, Guangdong province Moz / / 1958
S20 Jingqu Ta-niobite deposit Zhaoqing, Guangdong province Tn, Moz, Ilm Tn: 119 Nb2O5: 5; Ilm: 3; Moz: 2 1972
S21 Madianhe xenotime deposit Dianbai, Guangdong province Xt, Moz, Zr Xt: 111-133; Moz: 90-350; Zr: 744-860; Ilm: 450-463 Xt: 1,069; Ilm: 4,437 1973
S22 Wuhe deposit Guangning, Guangdong province Moz, Xt, Zr, Ilm Moz: 423; Xt: 132; Zr: 100-200; Ilm: 150-300 Moz: 495; Xt: 155 1970
S23 Nansandao deposit Zhanjiang, Guangdong province Xt, Moz Zr: 1,021-1,882; Moz: 118-354 Zr: 19,836 1959
S24 Zhapozhen deposit Yangjiang, Guangdong province Moz Moz: 550 Moz: 236 1959
S25 Wangcungang deposit Dianbai, Guangdong province Zr, Moz, Ilm Zr: 1,640; Moz: 222 Zr: 2,304 1959

Notes: Abbreviations: Cas = cassiterite, Fet = fergusonite, Gar = garnet, Ilm = ilmenite, Moz = monazite, Nb = niobite, Nt = niotanite, Ru = rutile, Tn = tanniobite, Wf = wolframite, Xt = xenotime, Zr = zircon; “/” = grade or tonnage data not acquired

1

Online material from National Geology Archives of China (http://www.ngac.cn/) and the references herein

The Himalayan Mianning-Dechang REE belt in western Sichuan province, southwestern China, is approximately 270 km long and 15 km wide along a general north-south trend. It includes one giant (Maoniuping: 3.17 Mt REO), two intermediate (Dalucao: 0.082 Mt REO; Muluo: 0.1 Mt REO), and a number of small REE deposits (e.g., Lizhuang) and occurrences (Fig. 2, Table 2). The REE belt is located within the western margin of Yangtze craton of the South China block (Fig. 2) and follows a Permian paleorift zone. The host carbonatite rocks and associated alkaline rocks were emplaced between ca. 36 and 13 Ma (Tian, 2006, 2008a, b; Hu et al., 2012), which was a period when the western margin of the block was reactivated as the eastern part of the Indo-Asian Himalayan collisional orogen. The REE mineralization that is associated with the carbonatite-alkalic complexes is spatially associated with a series of Cenozoic strike-slip faults constrained by the ancient Panxi rift. The complexes consist of carbonatitic sills or dikes, and associated alkaline syenite stocks, which intruded Yanshanian granites, Proterozoic basement, and Devonian-Cretaceous sedimentary rock sequences. The REE mineralization is dated by molybdenite Re-Os and by Rb-Sr techniques, with results indicating ore formation at 28.5 Ma (Y-L. Xie, unpub. data, 2014) at the Lizhuang deposit and 29.9 Ma at the Maoniuping deposit (Hu et al., 2012), respectively. These dates overlap those of the widespread postcollisional magmatism throughout the Qinghai-Tibet plateau area (Hou et al., 2006).

The Weishan-Laiwu-Zibo REE belt in Shandong province is situated in the eastern margin of the North China block. The belt is about 250 km long and 50 km wide and trends north-south along the western side of the continental-scale Tan-Lu fault zone. Some of the REE mineralization is genetically related to emplacement of a syenite-related, carbonatite-alkaline complex that is imprecisely dated on unspecified minerals by K-Ar methods at 174 to 119 Ma (Yu et al., 2010). The mineralization, as dated by both K-Ar (unspecified minerals) and Rb-Sr (muscovite), is more narrowly constrained to the period of 119.5 to 107 Ma (Lan et al., 2011; Yu et al., 2010). Four REE deposits and a number of carbonatite-hosted occurrences are known in this belt, including the Chishan deposit in Weishan County (C14, Fig. 2), Longbaoshan deposit in Cangshan County (C15, Fig. 2), Badoushan deposit in the Zibo area (C16, Fig. 2), and Hujiazhuang deposit in the Laiwu area (C17, Fig. 2; Table 1).

Other REE Deposit Types in China

Table 4.
Other REE Deposit Types in China
No Deposit Location Main commodities Average grade (REO wt % 3) Deposite type Reporting year Total resource (REO, t) Reference
O1 Zhoujiagou Fangshan; Shanxi province Eux, Xt / Granite-related 1972 3,069! *
O2 Yuantou Huayin; Shanxi province Moz, Alt / Vein style 1972 2,490 *
O3 Zhuangzishang Suozhou, Shanxi province Apt, REE / Vein style 1962 7,085 *
O4 Wanghuizhuang Datong; Shanxi province P2O5, REE 1.95-3.75 Vein style 1974 2,200 *
O5 Dazhuzhi Rizhao; Shandong province Moz, U, Th / Unknown 1980 51,000 *
O6 Butou Laixi; Shandong province Moz, U, Th 0.016 Pegmatite 1974 398 *
O7 Ninghua Ninghua; Fujian province REE, Sc / Unknown 1988 8,000 *
O8 Yihenchahan Wulate; Inner Mongolia Alt, REE / Unknown 2009 6,714 *
O9 Zhaojinggou Wuchuan, Inner Mongolia Nb, Tb, REE / Unknown 1972 864 *
O10 Hayehutong Baotou; Inner Mongolia Alt, REE 0.0054 Pegmatite 1957 906 *
O11 Chahangou Chayou; Inner Mongolia LREE, Te 0.0204 Pegmatite 1972 229 *
O12 Chaganmiao Wulate; Inner Mongolia REE, Nb, Th, U, Be0.0020 Granite 1959 4,324 *
O13 Laohuchong Yingshan; Hubei province Y0.074-0.082 Metamorphosed
volcanic
1979 3,454 *
O14 Guangshui Yingshan; Hubei province Y 0.0009 Unknown 1980 8,334 *
O15 Dengjiawan Dawu; Hubei province Y0.054-0.064 Unknown 1979 246 *
O16 Dazhaiyu Luanchuan; Henan province Y Hydrothermal 1971 684 *
O17 514 Yunfu; Guangdong province Xt 0.0005 Granite 1973 / *
O18 Aizizhen Shixing; Guangdong province Fe, Xt, Moz / Pegmatite 1970 21 *
O19 Xiangumiao and Shanglai Luoding; Guangdong province Xt, Moz / Granite 1972 / *
O20 Xijiangpai Shicheng; Jiangxi province Xt, Eux, Moz 0.0002 Pegmatite 1972 532 *
O21 Liantang Shicheng; Jiangxi province Nb, Ta, REE 0.0002 Pegmatite 1977 1,487 *
O22 Ganshahenao Tianzhu; Gansu province Zr, Ilm0.0089 Pegmatite 1999 136,136 *
O23 301 Wuhai; N Inner Mongolia Li, Th, REE 0.08-0.19 Alkaline rock 1961 4,738 *
O24 Ketagexi Weili county, Xinjing REE, Nb, Ta, Zr 0.045-0.099 Alkaline syenite 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
O25 Boziguoer Baicheng, Xinjiang REE, Y, Nb, Ta 0.07-0.19 Alkaline granite 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
O26 Yilankeli Baicheng, Xinjiang REE, Y 1.559 Alkaline pegmatite 2002 Not confirmedZou et al. (2002)
O27 Kuoshibulake Atushi city, Xinjiang REE, Y 2.433 Hydrothermal 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
No Deposit Location Main commodities Average grade (REO wt % 3) Deposite type Reporting year Total resource (REO, t) Reference
O1 Zhoujiagou Fangshan; Shanxi province Eux, Xt / Granite-related 1972 3,069! *
O2 Yuantou Huayin; Shanxi province Moz, Alt / Vein style 1972 2,490 *
O3 Zhuangzishang Suozhou, Shanxi province Apt, REE / Vein style 1962 7,085 *
O4 Wanghuizhuang Datong; Shanxi province P2O5, REE 1.95-3.75 Vein style 1974 2,200 *
O5 Dazhuzhi Rizhao; Shandong province Moz, U, Th / Unknown 1980 51,000 *
O6 Butou Laixi; Shandong province Moz, U, Th 0.016 Pegmatite 1974 398 *
O7 Ninghua Ninghua; Fujian province REE, Sc / Unknown 1988 8,000 *
O8 Yihenchahan Wulate; Inner Mongolia Alt, REE / Unknown 2009 6,714 *
O9 Zhaojinggou Wuchuan, Inner Mongolia Nb, Tb, REE / Unknown 1972 864 *
O10 Hayehutong Baotou; Inner Mongolia Alt, REE 0.0054 Pegmatite 1957 906 *
O11 Chahangou Chayou; Inner Mongolia LREE, Te 0.0204 Pegmatite 1972 229 *
O12 Chaganmiao Wulate; Inner Mongolia REE, Nb, Th, U, Be0.0020 Granite 1959 4,324 *
O13 Laohuchong Yingshan; Hubei province Y0.074-0.082 Metamorphosed
volcanic
1979 3,454 *
O14 Guangshui Yingshan; Hubei province Y 0.0009 Unknown 1980 8,334 *
O15 Dengjiawan Dawu; Hubei province Y0.054-0.064 Unknown 1979 246 *
O16 Dazhaiyu Luanchuan; Henan province Y Hydrothermal 1971 684 *
O17 514 Yunfu; Guangdong province Xt 0.0005 Granite 1973 / *
O18 Aizizhen Shixing; Guangdong province Fe, Xt, Moz / Pegmatite 1970 21 *
O19 Xiangumiao and Shanglai Luoding; Guangdong province Xt, Moz / Granite 1972 / *
O20 Xijiangpai Shicheng; Jiangxi province Xt, Eux, Moz 0.0002 Pegmatite 1972 532 *
O21 Liantang Shicheng; Jiangxi province Nb, Ta, REE 0.0002 Pegmatite 1977 1,487 *
O22 Ganshahenao Tianzhu; Gansu province Zr, Ilm0.0089 Pegmatite 1999 136,136 *
O23 301 Wuhai; N Inner Mongolia Li, Th, REE 0.08-0.19 Alkaline rock 1961 4,738 *
O24 Ketagexi Weili county, Xinjing REE, Nb, Ta, Zr 0.045-0.099 Alkaline syenite 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
O25 Boziguoer Baicheng, Xinjiang REE, Y, Nb, Ta 0.07-0.19 Alkaline granite 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
O26 Yilankeli Baicheng, Xinjiang REE, Y 1.559 Alkaline pegmatite 2002 Not confirmedZou et al. (2002)
O27 Kuoshibulake Atushi city, Xinjiang REE, Y 2.433 Hydrothermal 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)

Notes: * = Online material from National Geology Archives of China ( http://www.ngac.cn/ ) and the references herein; abbreviations: Alt = allanite, Eux = euxenite, Ilm = ilmenite, Moz = monazite, Xt = xenotime, Zr = zircon; “/” = grade or tonnage data not acquired

1 For Xt, not REO

The Miaoya REE deposit, which is located in Hubei province, is the only identified carbonatite-related REE deposit in the 2,400-km-long Qinling-Dabie orogenic belt. The NW-trending orogen and the Miaoya REE deposit are situated in the reactivated southern margin of the North China block. The REE mineralization is genetically related to a Hercynian carbonatite that has a K-Ar biotite age of 278 Ma (Li, 1980, 1991). In addition to the Miaoya deposit, two REE deposits of uncertain type have also been reported in the eastern edge of the orogen (e.g., Denjawan and Zhuangzishang in Hubei provinces). Furthermore, a number of carbonatite-related Mo deposits have been dated by Re-Os methods in the western part of the orogen, which include the ca. 209.5 Ma Huangshui’an and ca. 220-221 Ma Huanglongpu deposits in Shannxi province (Huang et al., 2009; Xu et al., 2009). Therefore, the orogen has a high favorability for the discovery of future carbonatite-related REE deposits.

Deposits with REE As By-products In China

Table 5.
Deposits with REE As By-products In China
No. Deposit Location Economic
commodity
Average grade (REO, wt %) Discovery
date
Total REE resource (REO, t)
B1 Xiangwang Xiaoyi; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2003 373,407
B2 Xihonghe Xinzhou; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2007 6,717
B3 Tuanshuitou Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 19,248
B4 Houtashang Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 7,193
B5 Tiejincun Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2004 36,281
B6 Puyi Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 35,500
B7 Qinghe Ji’an; Jilin province U 0.014-0.043 / /
B8 Shiqiehe Baode; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2005 9,959
B9 Aoshan Maanshan; Anhui province Fe / 1959 /
B10 Qiganliang Fengzhen; Neimeng province P / 1973 13,425
B11 Kenwei Qingyuan; Guangdong province Kao / 1987 175
B12. Shawei Huiyang Kao, Ta, Y, Moz, Xt / 1977 Nb2O5: 497; Ta2O5: 514; Xt: 1,674; Moz: 487
No. Deposit Location Economic
commodity
Average grade (REO, wt %) Discovery
date
Total REE resource (REO, t)
B1 Xiangwang Xiaoyi; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2003 373,407
B2 Xihonghe Xinzhou; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2007 6,717
B3 Tuanshuitou Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 19,248
B4 Houtashang Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 7,193
B5 Tiejincun Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2004 36,281
B6 Puyi Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 35,500
B7 Qinghe Ji’an; Jilin province U 0.014-0.043 / /
B8 Shiqiehe Baode; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2005 9,959
B9 Aoshan Maanshan; Anhui province Fe / 1959 /
B10 Qiganliang Fengzhen; Neimeng province P / 1973 13,425
B11 Kenwei Qingyuan; Guangdong province Kao / 1987 175
B12. Shawei Huiyang Kao, Ta, Y, Moz, Xt / 1977 Nb2O5: 497; Ta2O5: 514; Xt: 1,674; Moz: 487

Notes: * = Online material from National Geology Archives of China ( http://www.ngac.cn/ ) and the references herein; abbreviations: Kao = kaolinite, Moz = monazite, Xt = xenotime; “/” = grade or tonnage data not acquired

Bayan Obo REE deposit

Geology: The giant Bayan Obo deposit in Inner Mongolia is the largest REE deposit in the world and also contains important resources of Nb and Fe. Reported reserves for the main and east orebodies are 57.4 Mt at an average grade of 6% REO, 2.2 Mt averaging 0.13% Nb2O5, and at least 1,500 Mt averaging 35% Fe (Fan et al., 2004a, b, 2014). It was primarily explored and mined as an Fe deposit with REE recovered as a by-product. Bayan Obo is located in the Langshan-Bayan Obo continental margin rift at the northern margin of North China block (Drew et al., 1990; Chao et al., 1997). Geologic features, mineral assemblages, geochemistry, and geochronology of the deposit have been extensively studied during the past 25 years (e.g., Institute of Geochemistry, 1988; Drew et al., 1990; Yuan et al., 1991, 1995; Chao et al., 1992, 1997; Smith et al., 2000; Smith, 2007; Zhang, P. S. et al., 2002; Zhang, Z.Q. et al., 2003; Fan et al., 2006; Wang et al., 2010; Qiu et al., 2011; Yang et al., 2011; Lai and Yang, 2013).

The strata in the deposit region are mainly those of the Mesoproterozoic Lower Bayan Obo Group and, to a lesser extent, the Archean Wutai Group. The Bayan Obo Group has been divided into nine lithologic units from H1 to H9, with the H8 dolomite being the dominant host rock for the REE orebodies (Fig. 5). Gentle regional east-west folds are distributed throughout the deposit area. The major fault in the Bayan Obo area is the Kuangou fault, which also strikes east-west.

Igneous rocks in the Bayan Obo district include a Hercynian dioritic-granitic pluton, which is composed of granite, K-feldspar granite, granitic diorite, gabbro diorite, gabbro, monzonitic granite, and biotite granite (Fan et al., 2009), and numerous Proterozoic anorogenic igneous rocks, which are composed of trachyte, magnesioarfvedesonite-feldspatite, potash-rhyolite, dacite, rhyolite, quartz porphyry, trachy basalt (Wang et al., 2003), and carbonatite (Drew et al., 1990; Yuan et al., 1991; Fan et al., 2006; Le Bas et al., 2007). The carbonatite occurs as dikes and as a unit of massive dolomite marble, assuming that the H8 unit is indeed carbonatite, an assumption that is well supported by recent geochemical data (e.g., Yang et al., 2011). Based on the mineral assemblages and geochemical data, the carbonatite can be divided into a calcite carbonatite, dolomite carbonatite (or the so-called dolomite marble), and calcite-dolomite carbonatite (Wang et al., 2002).

The deposit consists of a main orebody, an east orebody, and a series of small west orebodies, as well as a skarn that is related to the Hercynian granite (Fan et al., 2004a; Liu et al., 2004) in the eastern part of the deposit. In 2009, exploration identified an additional REO resource of >10 Mt, mainly located in deposits to the east (Boluotou) and south (East Jielegele) of the main deposit (Table 1). The orebodies of the main deposit are aligned along an E-W-striking belt. The main and east orebodies occur as large lenses trending east-west and northeast, respectively. The dominant alteration in this deposit is fenitization, reflecting widespread Na metasomatism, with a resulting mineral assemblage of fluorite, aegirine, riebeckite, albite, and quartz. Fenitization along the contact between the dolomite marble and K-rich country-rock slates is common. The main orebodies occur in dolomite marble of the H8 unit, which has been interpreted as a carbonatite comprising both volcanic rock (Xiao et al., 2003; Wang et al., 2010) and intrusive rock (Liu, 1985; Wang et al., 2002; Le Bas et al., 2007; Yang et al., 2011; Liu et al., 2012), as well as a sedimentary rock that has undergone a hydrothermal overprint (Hou, 1989; Meng and Drew, 1992; Yang, X.Y. et al., 2000; Qin et al., 2007), a sedimentary rock (Yang and Drew, 1994; Zhang et al., 2012), and a hydrothermal-replacement body of a sedimentary rock (Lai et al., 2012). The various interpretations of the H8 unit have been at the center of the long-term argument about the genesis of the deposit, but detailed geochemical data (e.g., Yang et al., 2011) indicate that H8 is likely a Mesoproterozoic carbonatite intrusion.

Fig. 5.

Simplified geologic map of the Bayan Obo REE deposit, Inner Mongolia (modified after Chao et al., 1997).

Fig. 5.

Simplified geologic map of the Bayan Obo REE deposit, Inner Mongolia (modified after Chao et al., 1997).

The mineral assemblage of the Bayan Obo deposit is extremely complex. The dominant ore minerals include magnetite, niobite ([Fe, Mn]Nb2O6), bastnaesite, bunsite (REE2Ca[CO3]3F2), aechynite, monazite, and xenotime. New REE-bearing minerals discovered in the deposit include baotite (Ba(Nb, Ti)2SiO7) and baiyuneboite (NaBaCe2[F (CO3)4]). Details of the mineral assemblages are described by Zhang et al. (2001, 2002). From the periphery of the carbonatite bodies inward, the mineralization varies from disseminated ores in dolomite, to banded ore, aegirine-rich assemblages, riebeckite-rich assemblages, and finally to a massive ore (Fig. 6).

Geochronology/geochemistry: Many papers discuss the geochemistry of the Bayan Obo deposit, including the major and trace element compositions, stable and radiogenic isotopes, geochronology of the dolomite marble (H8), carbonatite dikes, and REE ores. Although the genesis of the H8 dolomite is still a controversial topic, the genetic link between the carbonatite and the ores has been widely accepted. Carbonatite-related hydrothermal fluids are most commonly called upon to explain the formation of the REE ores (e.g., Smith et al., 2000; Fan et al., 2006; Qin et al., 2007).

Results from many geochronology studies of Bayan Obo have most consistently been interpreted to indicate that the main REE-related magmatism and the mineralization events are Mesoproterozoic (e.g., Liu et al., 2001; Zhang et al., 2003). Mineral Sm-Nd isochrons yielded ages of 1313 Ma (Ren et al., 1994) and 1250 Ma (Zhang et al., 2003), whereas whole-rock Sm-Nd isochrons yielded ages of 1580 Ma (Yuan et al., 1991) and 1286 Ma (Zhang et al., 1994, 2003). Fan et al. (2014) obtained a U-Pb age for zircons from an REE-rich carbonatite dike of ca. 1400 Ma. We agree with the Mesoproterozoic interpretation and argue that many of the younger Neoproterozoic and early Paleozoic dates referenced below are best interpreted as part of the complicated postore geologic history of the deposit.

Fig. 6.

Ore deposit model for the Bayan Obo REE deposit, showing the orestyle variations in the deposit.

Fig. 6.

Ore deposit model for the Bayan Obo REE deposit, showing the orestyle variations in the deposit.

Conflicting younger age estimates include SHRIMP analyses of monazite grains that gave U-Pb apparent ages ranging from 1000 to 400 Ma (Qiu, 1997), monazite internal Th-Pb isochrones that ranged from 555 to 398 Ma (Wang et al., 1994; Chao et al., 1997), and 40Ar-39Ar plateau ages of riebeckite from 395 to 343 Ma (Chao et al., 1997). Liu et al. (1996) obtained an Re-Os apparent age of 439 Ma for molybdenite in the REE ore. Qiu (1997) suggested that the Bayan Obo deposit underwent multistage ore-forming events and the early mineralization event occurred before 1000 to 800 Ma, whereas the major ore-forming event happened at 340 Ma (based on the U-Pb age of monazite) or 408 Ma (based on the Pb-Th age of monazite). Zhang et al. (2003) preferred that the main ore-forming event occurred in the Mesoproterozoic or Neoproterozoic and was overprinted in the early Paleozoic. Based on Sr-Nd isotope results, Yang et al. (2011) proposed a 1.35 Ga mineralization event and Paleozoic modification of the ores, a geochronological model that now is widely accepted. Smith et al. (2014) also suggested two ore-forming stages, one initial stage at ca. 1300 Ma and the second defined by remobilization of Fe and REE, as well as the introduction of Nb at ca. 450 Ma; later Permian magmatism was the preferred cause of the overprinting skarn assemblage. Campbell et al. (2014), based upon zircon SHRIMP ages, argued that the initial ore elements were deposited at 1325 ± 60 Ma and were remobilized during a 456 ± 28 Ma alteration event.

Yang et al. (2011) presented the most recent petrochemical data for calcite carbonatite, calcite-dolomite carbonatite, and dolomite carbonatite dikes, as well as for the dolomite marble unit. Their results show that the carbonatite dikes and dolomite marble have similar Sr-Nd isotope compositions and Sr-Nd isochron ages, thus implying a magmatic origin for the dolomite marble. The initial 87Sr/86Sr values range from 0.7064 to 0.7089 for the calcite carbonatite, 0.7032 to 0.7082 for the calcite-dolomite carbonatite, and 0.7048 to 0.7055 for the dolomite carbonatite. The £Nd(t; values range from -0.47 to +0.65 (Yang et al., 2011). The calcite carbonatite is characterized by a LREE enrichment pattern, whereas the dolomite carbonatite has a flat REE pattern. Yang et al. (2011) interpreted the geochemical data as indicative of a crystal fractionation of an evolving Mesoproterozoic carbonatite magma.

Melt and fluid inclusions have been studied in calcite and barite from the carbonatite dikes and in fluorite from the REE ore (Fan et al., 2004b, 2006; Qin et al., 2007). Melt, melt-fluid, aqueous-vapor, gas, and solid inclusions have all been reported by Qin et al. (2007) as indicating a magmatic origin for the carbonatite dikes. Two- or three-phase CO2-rich, three-phase hypersaline liquid-vapor-solid, and two-phase liquid-rich inclusions have been recognized in fluorite and quartz from the REE ores (Fan et al., 2006). Microthermometric results show a wide range of homogenization temperatures for different types of inclusions, from less than 100° to 450°C. The carbonic phase in the CO2-rich inclusions is nearly pure CO2. Fluids involved in formation of the REE-Nb-Fe mineralization at Bayan Obo have been suggested to be mainly in the H2O-CO2-NaCl-(F-REE) system (Fan et al., 2006). The sylvite, barite, and calcite daughter phases in the inclusions (Fan et al., 2006) also indicate high K, Ca, Ba, and SO4 in the fluid. Coexistence of brine inclusions and CO2-rich inclusions with similar homogenization temperatures has been taken as evidence that immiscibility of a carbonatite-derived fluid accompanied REE mineralization. The abundant REE-bearing carbonate daughter phases in fluid inclusions provide support that the original ore-forming fluids were very rich in REE. The relatively high homogenization temperatures and salinities of some fluid inclusions indicate an initial dense brine, probably of magmatic/carbonatitic origin, as described by Smith et al. (2000). Carbonatite-related fluids have been shown to include alkali-chloride brines, alkali-carbonate brines (Samson et al., 1995), aqueous carbonic fluids (Ting et al., 1994), and a distinctively dense REE-rich H2O-CO2-SO4 supercritical fluid with elevated Sr, Ba, Ca, Pb, and Zn (Xie et al., 2011). All of these are somewhat consistent with the numerous fluid compositions suggested for the ore-forming solutions at Bayan Obo. The reported inclusions containing different numbers and types of solid phases, including REE-bearing minerals, at Bayan Obo, imply a high solubility of REE and other components.

Genesis and deposit model: The Bayan Obo deposit formed during multiple episodes of hydrothermal activity (Drew et al., 1990; Yuan et al., 1991; Chao et al., 1992, 1997). Workers have suggested that it may be an IOCG deposit (Mao et al., 2008), a SEDEX deposit (Yang and Drew, 1994), a deposit formed from meteorite impact (Yao et al., 1998), a magmatic hydrothermal replacement deposit (Chao et al., 1997; Wang et al., 2003), and a carbonatite-derived replacement deposit of a sedimentary carbonate unit (Lai et al., 2012). Ling et al. (2013) further developed the sedimentary carbonate replacement model, arguing that the release of Si-rich fluids from a subducting Neoproterozoic through late Paleozoic slab was critical for formation of the giant REE resource. Nevertheless, most geochronological and geochemical data have led the majority of workers to accept a Mesoproterozoic carbonatite-related hypothesis for ore genesis (Le Bas et al., 1992; Yuan et al., 2000; Yang, X.M. et al., 2000, 2003, Fan et al., 2006).

Geochemical data indicate that the carbonatite and ore material have a mantle source, whereas the high Re/Os ratios, highly radiogenic 187Os/188Os ratios, and very low Os concentrations in a late-stage pyrite grain suggest a crustal origin for the reduced sulfur (Liu et al., 2004). The REE-, Nb-, Fe-, and Ta-bearing minerals in the Bayan Obo deposit are related to magmatic-hydrothermal events associated with the Mesoproterozoic evolution of a carbonatite magma. Dolomite carbonatite represents the earlier phase of carbonatite, and the calcite carbonatite represents the later phase of the carbonatite (Yang et al., 2011). The mineralization style shows a variation from disseminated ore in altered wall rock, to deformed ore in dolomite, and to massive ore in the center of the dolomite marble (Fig. 6).

The REE mineralization formed in a continental rift environment during the Mesoproterozoic and thus within the ancient Columbia or Nuna supercontinent. This rift may have been originally active as far back as ca. 1900 Ma (e.g., Fan et al., 2014). Reconstructions of the Mesoproterozoic supercontinent suggested that the North China block was amalgamated with the Australian cratons in East Nuna by 1650 to 1580 Ma, and breakup of East Nuna took place between 1450 and 1380 Ma (Pisarevsky et al., 2014). It is very possible that the initial REE mineralization at Bayan Obo correlates with this period of breakup. However, the late pyrite and Nb enrichment at Bayan Obo most likely was formed by hydrothermal events during Paleozoic deformation along the North China block margin (Liu et al., 2004), when the Paleo-Asia Ocean was being subducted below the block after it was rifted from Gondwana (e.g., Goldfarb et al., 2014). Therefore, the present-day ultimate configuration of the orebodies and the final mineral assemblages at Bayan Obo reflect more than 1 b.y. of tectonism and magmatism.

Maoniuping REE deposit

Geology: The Maoniuping giant REE deposit is the most important deposit in the Mianning-Dechang REE belt of southwestern China, and thus the one deposit in the region that has been studied in detail. The reported resources of the deposit include 3.17 Mt REO at an average grade of 2.95 wt %, 0.6 Mt Pb, 0.08 Mt Mo, 13.24 Mt CaF2, 19.76 Mt BaSO4, and 0.83 Mt SrSO4 (109 Geological Brigade of Sichuan Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resource, 2010). The REE mineralization is associated with Himalayan age carbonatite-alkalic complexes. The geology of the Maoniuping district is described in detail by Hou et al. (2006, 2009). A 146 Ma granite pluton (Zhang et al., 1988) underlies much of the district, which also includes Devonian metamorphosed clastic country rocks, a rhyolite unit of unknown age, and the carbonatite-alkalic complex (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7.

Simplified geologic map of the Maoniuping REE deposit (after Yuan et al, 1995). Abbreviations: AG = alkaline granite, Carb = carbonatite, D2 = Middle Devonian, OB = orebody, Ry = rhyolite, Sy = syenite.

Fig. 7.

Simplified geologic map of the Maoniuping REE deposit (after Yuan et al, 1995). Abbreviations: AG = alkaline granite, Carb = carbonatite, D2 = Middle Devonian, OB = orebody, Ry = rhyolite, Sy = syenite.

The carbonatite-alkalic complex, which was emplaced into the granite and rhyolite, comprises mainly syenite and minor carbonatite sills, stocks, and dikes that have a 29.9 Ma Sm-Nd isochron age (Hu et al., 2012). The mineral assemblages of the carbonatites are dominated by calcite, fluorite, biotite, aegirine, aegirine-augite, arfvedsonite, barite, microcline, apatite, quartz, and REE-bearing minerals, with minor magnetite and sulfides. The 27 to 26 Ma REE mineralization (Hu et al., 2012) occurs as vein systems hosted in carbonatite, nordmarkite, and, to a lesser extent, altered granite and rhyolite. The alteration at Maoniuping is characterized by a fenite halo surrounding the carbonatite and enveloping the REE orebodies. The REE-bearing veinlets, stringers, and stockwork zones surround the carbonatites; some of the ores are also pegmatitic, disseminated, or breccias. The REE orebodies vary in shapes from layerlike, to lenticular, and to pipelike in different ore zones. Bastnaesite is the main REE-bearing mineral, although minor bunsite and chevkinite also contribute to the resource. The pegmatitic ore occurs mainly as large dikes in the upper parts of the carbonatite complex, surrounded by veinlets and stockworks, and zoning downward to disseminated ore in the carbonatite. The minor breccia ore at Maoniuping has carbonatite and pegmatite as cement. No crosscutting relationships have been confirmed among the stockworks, veins, pegmatites, and carbonatite; they all appear to be relatively coeval and interrelated (Xie et al., 2015).

Geochemistry: Mineralogical and geochemical studies indicate that the carbonatites at Maoniuping are dominated by calcite carbonatite and have low concentrations of SiO2, FeO, and MgO (Xu et al., 2002). The carbonatites are extremely enriched in large ion lithophile elements (LILE; Sr, Ba) and LREE, but relatively depleted in high-field strength elements (HFSE; Nb, Ta, P, Zr, Hf, Ti; Xu et al., 2002), suggesting a metasomatized mantle source. Their O, C, and S isotope compositions are similar to those of primary, mantle-derived carbonatites, also suggesting a mantle source (Xu et al., 2002; Li et al., 2007). Low £Nd(t) (-3.2 to -4.2) and relative high 87Sr / 86Sr (0.706074-0.706149) values, as well as a wide range of 207Pb/ 204Pb (15.526-15.567) and 208Pb/ 204Pb ratios (38.28339.390; Hou et al., 2006), distinguish them from the Bayan Obo carbonatites. Their Sr, Nd, and Pb isotope signatures indicate notable contamination by crustal materials. Overlapping emplacement ages, isotopic compositions, and mantlenormalized trace element patterns for the spatially associated syenites suggest a liquid immiscibility origin for the carbonatites (Xu et al., 2002; Hou et al., 2006).

Complex melt, melt-fluid, and fluid inclusion assemblages exist in fluorite, quartz, barite, and bastnaesite from carbonatite and REE ores. Net-like sulfate-bearing melt-fluid inclusions are most common in carbonatite-hosted fluoritegrains, which show an early crystallization character and are characterized by consistent solid/aqueous/vapor ratios, indicating that these are the most representative samples of the primary carbonatitic fluid (Xie et al., 2011, 2015). Quartz, barite, and bastnaesite contain a CO2-rich fluid inclusion assemblage and crystallized later than the fluorite (Xie et al., 2009). Paragenetically heterogeneous trapping of unmixed phases during the carbonatite fluid evolution lead to preservation of varied inclusion assemblages, such as a melt and a melt-fluid inclusion assemblage, a solid-rich and solid-poor CO2-rich fluid inclusion assemblage, and a CO2-rich and pure CO2 fluid inclusion assemblage (Xie et al., 2011, 2015). Microthermometric results demonstrate that the primary carbonatite fluid was a high temperature (650°-850°C), high pressure (>350 MPa) supercritical fluid (Xie et al., 2009) and followed an evolutionary path that included phase separation of a critical fluid at 650° to 850°C, sulfate-melt exsolution from aqueous fluid at 335° to 455°C, and sulfate crystallization over a wide range of temperature (Xie et al., 2011, 2015). The LA-ICP-MS analyses of primary melt-fluid inclusions in fluorite show high LREE concentrations in the primary carbonatite fluid, as well as elevated Pb, Zn, Sr, and Ba. Exsolution of sulfate melt and crystal fractionation of sulfate minerals may have caused the further enrichment of REE and base metals in the residual CO2-rich fluid that deposited the bastnaesite and quartz (Xie et al., 2009).

Scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive spectrometer (SEM/EDS) and laser raman microprobe (LRM) analyses of solid phases in melt-fluid and solid-rich fluid inclusions show that almost all solid phases are sulfate minerals, including syngenite (K2Ca(SO4)2-H2O), glauberite (Na2Ca(SO4)2), aphthitalite (K3Na(SO4)2, mirabilite (Na2SO4-10H2O), anhydrite (CaSO4), and celestite (SrSO4; Xie et al., 2011, 2015). The dominance of SO4 and H2O in the aqueous phase and CO2 in the vapor phase is confirmed by LRM results (Xie et al., 2009). The LRM and SEM/EDS data imply a distinctive sulfate-rich ore-forming fluid at Maoniuping.

The microthermometric results for the CO2-rich inclusions in bastnaesite and quartz indicate that the REE deposition occurred at approximately 275° to 325°C and the unmixing between CO2 and H2O was an important mechanism for REE ore formation. Oxygen and carbon isotope data for calcite gangue, combined with $13CV.PDB and $D of fluid inclusions in fluorite and quartz, were interpreted to indicate that the ore-forming fluids were dominantly of orthomagmatic origin, but mixed with an external fluid during the late stages of fluid evolution (Hou et al., 2009).

Ore genesis and deposit model: On the basis of tectonic setting, ore geology, and geochemical data, an ore-forming model can be developed for the Maoniuping REE deposit. Geochemical studies indicate an enriched mantle source for the alkaline carbonatite complexes and an unmixing between the syenite and carbonatite magmas as described by Hou et al. (2006). During the Tertiary India-Asia collision, the Panxi paleorift was reactivated as a series of strike-slip faults along the ancient zone of structural weakness and the carbonatite-alkaline complex was emplaced along the faults. The rapid ascent of the carbonatite magma, and the associated pressure decrease, caused exsolution of a sulfate melt and a CO2-dominant, REE-rich fluid from the magma. This may have been associated with minor REE precipitation. Further evolution of the fluid, particularly the unmixing between CO2 and H2O, caused the bulk of the REE precipitation.

A giant carbonatite body, large fluid volume, and a deep magma chamber are not necessary for the formation of a giant REE deposit because of the high water solubility in a carbonatite magma (Keppler, 2003), effective fluid exsolution, and high REE contents in such a primary carbonatite fluid. A dense primary carbonatite fluid and rapid fluid evolution prevent long distance migration of the REE. Thus, the fenite alteration and REE mineralization occur in or immediately surrounding the causative carbonatite. Maoniuping, and many other carbonatite-related REE deposits of the Mianning-Dechang REE belt are characterized by a zonation from an outer (upper) REE vein system, to a middle REE-bearing pegmatite ore style, and then to an inner (lower) disseminated style (Fig. 8). Brecciastyle mineralization may also be present with the pegmatitic and disseminated ores in the carbonatite body.

Ion-Adsorbed Clay REE (IAR) Deposits in Southern China

Almost all IAR deposits are located in southern China, in the Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Fujian provinces, although a few are also in the Guizhou and Yunnan provinces. Minor IAR deposits have been also reported in Inner Mongolia, Shandong, and the Shanxi provinces of northern China (Table 2, Fig. 3). The Longnan-Xunwu area is the most important IAR district in China, with widespread Mesozoic granite, and lesser Paleozoic granite and Mesozoic volcanic rock (Fig. 9), determined to be the parent rocks for the deposits. The IAR deposits in southern China occur in the lateritic weathering profiles of mainly felsic intrusive to acidic volcanic rocks, particularly in highly evolved Mesozoic granitoids that are REE rich (Bao and Zhao, 2008). A few small IAR deposits are also reported in the weathering profiles of tuff, diabase, lamprophyre, and basalt (Wu, 1988; Wang et al., 2006; Bao and Zhao, 2008; Yang et al., 2008). The REE in the IAR deposits have been suggested to adsorb to clay minerals, such as kaolinite, during lateritic weathering (Bao and Zhao, 2008). Mentani et al. (2010), however, noted that much of the REE resource could be associated with secondary amorphous phosphates that are mixed with the kaolin group minerals. In Japan, Murakami and Ishihara (2008) noted that much of the HREE resource in IAR deposits might, at least in some cases, be present in residual REE-bearing minerals, such as zircon, that were weathered from parent granitoids. Sanematsu and Watanabe (2016) suggest that the HREE are restricted to the weathering of highly evolved muscovite granites and are concentrated in fluorocarbonates precipitated during late hydrothermal alteration events.

Fig. 8.

Deposit model showing the zonation of mineralizing style for deposits of the Mianning-Dechang REE belt. 1 = REE vein and stockwork in nordmarkite, 2 = ore in pegmatite dike, 3 = ore along the contact between carbonatite and nordmarkite, 4 = disseminated ore in the center of carbonatite dike, 5 = breccia ore with carbonatite cement in the outer zone of carbonatite dike; Carb = carbonatite; Bar = barite, Bast = bastnaesite, Cal = calcite, Fl = fluorite, Nord = nordmarkite, Q = quartz.

Fig. 8.

Deposit model showing the zonation of mineralizing style for deposits of the Mianning-Dechang REE belt. 1 = REE vein and stockwork in nordmarkite, 2 = ore in pegmatite dike, 3 = ore along the contact between carbonatite and nordmarkite, 4 = disseminated ore in the center of carbonatite dike, 5 = breccia ore with carbonatite cement in the outer zone of carbonatite dike; Carb = carbonatite; Bar = barite, Bast = bastnaesite, Cal = calcite, Fl = fluorite, Nord = nordmarkite, Q = quartz.

Whitish zones in well-preserved soil profiles are mined for their REE by small pits on many of the hillsides in southern China. The REE had traditionally been leached in pits by sulfuric acid, the solutions were then moved to a second pit, and eventually mixed with oxalic acid to precipitate REE (COOH)2, which is typically rich in the HREE and Y. More recently, however, due to environmental concerns, leaching operations have been moved from the pits to local processing plants.

The IAR deposits in China have been divided into LREE (with Y2O3 <50% of the total REE resources) and HREE (with Y2O3 >50% of the total REE resources) types, and seven subtypes that include Y-rich HREE; medium Y HREE; Eu-rich, medium Y LREE; La-Nd-Eu-rich, low Y LREE; medium Y, low Eu LREE; Ce-rich LREE; and those of uncertain affinity (He and Wang, 1989). The Longnan-Xunwu-Xinfeng district in Jiangxi province is the largest IAR district and is the most significant HREE producer in the world. The Zudong and Heling REE deposits in the district are typical of the HREE- and LREE-type IAR deposits in China, respectively, and are described in detail below.

Fig. 9.

The distribution of intrusive and volcanic rocks in the Longnan-Xunwu area with deposit location (after Guo, 2010).

Fig. 9.

The distribution of intrusive and volcanic rocks in the Longnan-Xunwu area with deposit location (after Guo, 2010).

Zudong HREE deposit

The Zudong HREE deposit is located in Longnan county, South Jiangxi province (Fig. 9), and was the first discovered IAR deposit in China in the late 1960s. It had a pre-mining total REE resource of 131,000 t at an average grade of 0.048 wt % of yttrium oxide, with the Y estimated to define 35.8 to 62.5% of the total REE resource. There are more than seven other similar REE deposits in the area of Zudong, including Lintang, Fukeng, Dongjiang, Wenlong, Liren, Huangsha, and Guanxi.

The REE mineralization occurs in the weathering profile of the Zudong granite, which was emplaced into an Early Jurassic sequence of tuffs, rhyolite, and rhyolite porphyry (Fig. 10). The Zudong intrusive body is composed of medium-grained, muscovite-, K-feldspar-, and alkali feldspar-bearing granite and medium-grained, biotite- and K-feldspar-bearing granite (Wu, 1988; Huang et al., 1989a, 1993; Wu et al., 1990). Both of the intrusive phases crop out at an elevation of 300 to 400 m, in an area of low-relief hills. Weathered lateritic crusts have a considerable thickness, generally from several meters to 30 m on the tops and ridges of the hills, and they become gradually thinner in downslope areas (Wu, 1988; Wu et al., 1990).

The accessory minerals in the muscovite-bearing granite consist mainly of doverite, fluorite, and zircon, with minor monazite, gadolinite, xenotime, and chernovite. Doverite hosts about 60% of the REE in the intrusion and is the major contributor to REE accumulation in the weathering profile owing to its weak resistance to weathering processes. In contrast, the accessory mineral assemblage of the biotite-bearing granite is simple and dominated by monazite, xenotime, and zircon, with minor apatite and fluorite. Bao and Zhao (2008) indicated that the Zudong granite was altered to an albitemuscovite-fluorite-carbonate assemblage and the muscovite-bearing rocks are more altered than the biotote-bearing phases. The degree of alteration is the possible cause of the difference in accessory mineral assemblages. It is possible, in other words, that some of the REE-bearing accessory minerals in the granite may be hydrothermal alteration products formed prior to the extensive weathering.

The Zudong granite has an Rb-Sr isochron age of 147.7 ± 3.0 Ma and an initial 87Sr/86Sr value of 0.7188 (Huang et al., 1989b). The chemical composition is within the range of most S-type granites (Bao and Zhao, 2008). A well-developed weathering profile has formed above the granite. From the top downward, the profile includes a surface soil zone (A horizon), a completely weathered zone (B horizon), a semi-weathered zone (C horizon), a weathering front (D), and an unweathered granite (E). Zones B and C compose the REE orebody (Fig. 11). A changing sequence of mineral assemblages can be correlated with the progressive development of the weathered crust. The uppermost Zone A has a mineral assemblage of kaolinite + halloysite ± gibbsite + goethite, Zone B is dominated by halloysite + kaolinite + vermiculite, and Zone C includes halloysite + kaolinite + montmorillonite + mica.

Huang et al. (1989a) proposed a model for the enrichment of REE in the Zudong deposit that included a parent granite with a high HREE concentration. During hydrothermal alteration of the granite, the REE-bearing minerals were converted to more easily liberated, F-bearing, HREE-rich carbonate. During the long-term weathering and leaching process, the REE were adsorbed by clay minerals, and perhaps phosphates, to form the economic IAR deposit.

Heling LREE deposit

The Heling LREE deposit, discovered in 1972, is located in Xunwu county, South Jiangxi province (Figs. 9, 12), and has a total REO resource of 239,000 t (Table 2). The REE mineralization mainly occurs in the weathering profile of an acid volcanic rock and granite porphyry body (Wang and Ruan, 1989). The thickness of the orebody averages 8 to 9 m, but locally can be 28 m (Bao and Zhao, 2008). The granite porphyry, with an outcrop area of about 32 km2, was emplaced into the Late Jurassic volcanic rock sequence of the Jilongzhang Formation (Fig. 12) in the Heling basin (Lai and Wang, 1996; Zuo et al., 2000). The volcanic rocks include agglomerate-bearing tuff, rhyolitic ignimbrite, and rhyolitic porphyroclastic lava (Zhang and Ye, 1995). Whole-rock Rb-Sr isochron dating of the volcanic rocks yields dates from 154 to 138 Ma (Lai and Wang, 1996) and the biotite K-Ar age of the granite porphyry is 114 Ma (Wang and Ruan, 1989).

Fig. 10.

Geologic map of Zudong HREE deposit (after Huang et al., 1988).

Fig. 10.

Geologic map of Zudong HREE deposit (after Huang et al., 1988).

Fig. 11.

Deposit model for the Zudong IAR deposit, Jiangxi province (based on Wu et al., 1988). Zone A = soil cap, Zone B = wholly weathered zone, Zone C = semi-weathered zone.

Fig. 11.

Deposit model for the Zudong IAR deposit, Jiangxi province (based on Wu et al., 1988). Zone A = soil cap, Zone B = wholly weathered zone, Zone C = semi-weathered zone.

Fig. 12.

Geologic map of the Heling LREE deposit (after Zhang and Ye, 1995).

Fig. 12.

Geologic map of the Heling LREE deposit (after Zhang and Ye, 1995).

Phenocrysts in the granite porphyry are plagioclase feldspar (>40%), K-feldspar (15-40%), quartz (15-30%), and biotite (>2%), and the matrix is mainly quartz and feldspar. The accessory minerals in the granite porphyry are magnetite, apatite, bastnaesite, and Ce apatite, whereas in the acid volcanic rocks the accessory minerals are Ti magnetite, monazite, bastnaesite, chevkinite, and minor apatite (Wang and Ruan, 1989). The granite porphyry has a higher accessory mineral volume percentage than volcanic rock. The geochemical results show that the granite porphyry has a high K and low Ca content, with high Ba (279 ppm), Sr (36 ppm), and REE (376-2,460 ppm), a high LREE/HREE (4.07) ratio, and a negative Eu anomaly. The REE data indicate a LREE enrichment pattern (Wang and Ruan, 1989).

Petrochemical data show that the volcanic rocks have high SiO2 (60-75.8 wt %), high K2O (2.12-7.03 wt %), low CaO (0.03-4.09 wt %), and low Na2O (0.14-4.0 wt %), as well as an Al2O3 > K2O + Na2O + CaO character implying an Aloversaturated volcanic rock (Zuo et al., 2000). The volcanic rocks have higher Si and lower amounts of alkaline elements than the granite porphyry. The total REE concentration (391482 ppm) and LREE/HREE (2.91) ratios of the volcanic rock are lower than granite porphyry. The Eu negative anomaly is similar to the granite porphyry (Wang and Ruan, 1989). The volcanic rocks are considered to be an evolutionary product of the same source magma as that responsible for the granite porphyry, despite the significant reported age discrepancies that probably reflect imprecise geochronological data.

Discussion

Regional controls on LREE deposits in China

The regional tectonic and associated structural settings provide important controls on the LREE resources in China. Tectonically, China is composed of a number of Precambrian blocks, such as North China, Yangtze, Tarim, and Cathaysia, and their interstitial fold belts (Zhang et al., 1984; Wang and Mo, 1995; Zheng et al., 2013) that mainly reflect Paleozoic-Mesozoic ocean closures between the blocks. Almost all of the large LREE deposits in China are associated with carbonatites formed in craton margin environments. These include the northern margin of the North China block (e.g., Bayan Obo), western margin of the Yangtze block (e.g., Maoniuping), and southern and eastern margins of the North China block (e.g., Miaoya and Chishan, respectively; Fig. 2).

The North China and Yangtze blocks have undergone complex geologic histories. The subduction of the Proterozoic oceanic crust (Zheng and Zhang, 2007) and late Mesozoic Paleotethys Ocean below the western margin of Yangtze block (Wang et al., 2013), the Mianlue Ocean below the southern margin of the North China block during late Paleozoic (Lai et al., 2004), and the Pacific Ocean below the eastern margin of both blocks during early Mesozoic (Ren and Huang, 2002) obviously affected the evolution of the margins of these cratonic fragments. Long-term subduction enhanced the contribution of REE-rich pelagic sediment into the asthenosphere and also back to the mantle lithosphere by underplating. These cycled pelagic sediments led to the REE enrichment in the mantle under the margins of the North China and Yangtze Precambrian blocks.

Bayan Obo is the only Precambrian giant carbonatite-related REE deposit in China and situated along the northern margin of the North China block. Subduction of Precambrian oceanic crust may have contributed to an exceptional REE enrichment of the mantle under this area. It has been recognized that the North China block comprises distinct Eastern and Western blocks (Zhao et al., 2001) and underwent a complex Precambrian evolution of subduction and continent-continent collision (Zhao et al., 2001; Kusky, 2011). Zhao et al. (2001) suggested that the Eastern and Western blocks were separate entities in the Archean until an active margin and E-dipping Andean-type subduction zone developed on the west edge of Eastern block sometime between 2.5 and 1.85 Ga, as the two blocks collided. Recent seismic results show that there was also a second, E-dipping paleosubduction zone located to the east of the suture and dipping beneath the Western block (Kusky, 2011). This westward subduction may have brought REE-rich pelagic sediments into the asthenosphere and led to REE-enriched mantle below the area of Bayan Obo.

The activated margins of the Precambrian blocks comprise the first-order controls on LREE resources in China. Reactivation of the ancient craton margins produced a series of rifts and deep faults, such as the continental margin rift along the northern margin of the North China block (e.g., Langshan-Bayan Obo rift) and the major strike-slip fault system along the western margin of the Yangtze block. These deep and near vertical conduits, transecting much of the lithosphere, channeled ascending mantle magmas that contained components of REE-rich pelagic sediment. The recently reported, but very poorly documented, carbonatite-related Jongju deposit in North Korea, claimed in press releases to be larger than Bayan Obo (August 13, 2014 website: http://www.ctoccapital.com/largest-known-rare-earth-deposit-discovered-in-north-korea/), also is located along the northern margin of the North China block.

The difference in tectonic setting between China’s two main LREE deposits, Bayan Obo and Maoniuping, is reflected by the differences in magma sources and magma evolution paths. These differences in tectonomagmatic history may ultimately be responsible for the variation in the mineralization styles and mineral assemblages. The Bayan Obo deposit is enriched in Fe, Nb, and Ta, whereas the Maoniuping lacks economic Nb and Ta mineralization. The REE mineralization in Bayan Obo occurs mainly as massive ore in carbonatite (dolomite marble) and as disseminations in the wall rock. Vein systems are not well developed. Maoniuping is solely mined for its REE and is dominated by veinlet- and stockwork-style ores surrounding the carbonatite.

Bayan Obo is located in a Mesoproterozoic continental margin rift, whereas the Maoniuping deposit occurs within a Himalayan strike-slip fault system, although the system is localized along a Permian rift. The carbonatite at Bayan Obo includes calcite carbonatite, calcite-dolomite carbonatite, and dolomite carbonatite (Wang et al., 2003; Yang et al., 2011) and is more Mg rich than that at Maoniuping. The carbonatite in Maoniuping is dominated by calcite carbonatite, with minor Sr-rich carbonatite, but lacks dolomite carbonatite (Hou et al., 2006; Xie et al., 2011). The Sr-Nd isotope data show lower £Nd(t) for Maoniuping relative to Bayan Obo, implying an enriched mantle source with crustal material involvement at Maoniuping. The carbonatite originated from the unmixing between carbonatite melt and an alkaline silicate melt. The isotope results for Bayan Obo, however, show much higher £Nd(t) and a wide range of initial 87Sr/86Sr values (Yang et al., 2011), which indicate a slightly depleted mantle origin. From the early dolomite carbonatite phase to the later calcite carbonatite phase, the Sr-Nd isotope values show a flat trend with a narrow range of £Nd(t) and a wide range of 87Sr/86Sr. The absence of any associated alkaline silicate rocks, such as syenite, but the presence of associated basic rocks at Bayan Obo, implies a different evolution path compared to Maoniuping. The unmixing between alkaline silicate magma and carbonatite melt might not have happened at Bayan Obo.

Parent granitoids for HREE-rich IAR deposits in southern China

Almost all of the major IAR deposits in southern China occur in the weathering profile of granitoids. The parent granitic rocks, some of which are Sn-rich granites, include quartz syenite, quartz monzonite, granite porphyry, granzerite granite, dacite-rhyolite, migmatitic granite, biotite granite, biotite granodiorite, biotite monzonitic granite, biotite syenogranite, two-mica granite, muscovite granite, and muscovite alkaline granite. They range widely in age from Mesoproterozoic to Cenozoic (e.g., Wu, 1988, and references therein; Gu et al., 2007; Li et al., 2012). Yanshanian granites (e.g., Zudong and Heling in Jiangxi province: Bao and Zhao, 2008, and references therein) and Indosinian granites (e.g., Gonghe in Guangdong province and Dajishan in Jiangxi province: Zhuang et al., 2000) have been recognized as the most common parent rocks for IAR mineralization. Recent geochronological results, however, for two IAR-related granites in Jiangxi province give ages of 445.2 Ma (Hanfang granite) and 457.5 Ma (Longshe granite; Li et al., 2012; Sun et al., 2012), thus indicating that Caledonian granitoids also are associated with the IAR ores.

The S-type granites have been emphasized as the most important source for IAR deposits (Bao and Zhao, 2008), but increasing amounts of evidence show that A- and I-type granites also play an important role in REE mineralization in southern China (Hua et al., 2007). Although there are still arguments about classification of some of the suggested A-type granites (Hua et al., 2007), petrochemical data demonstrate that the A-type granites in southern China have much higher REE concentrations than S- and I-type bodies in the region (Wu et al., 2007). The Zudong granite has been referred to as an S-type granite, but its high £Nd and young model age imply a source from evolved mantle. Hua et al. (2007) believe that the major IAR deposits in South Jiangxi province are all related to A-type granites. Indosinian peraluminous to metaluminous granite, Yanshanian A-type granite, and middle to late Yanshanian biotite monzonitic granite or alkaline-feldspar granite all are recognized parent intrusions for the southern China IAR deposits (Hua et al., 2007). The middle to late Yanshanian intrusions show a low degree of differentiation, high total REE, LREE enrichment patterns, a strong negative Eu anomaly, and accessory biotite and REE-bearing minerals, together implying they are most likely an I- or syntectonic-type granite (Hua et al., 2007).

The IAR deposits are the main HREE resource in China. The IAR deposits are clustered in the center of the South China block, but show both NE- and NW-striking trends controlled by Mesozoic granitoids and regional fault systems (e.g., Shantou-Jieyang-Longnan and Meixian-Ganzhou), respectively (Fig. 8). The South China block was underplated by Paleotethys oceanic crust during early Paleozoic, adding the REE-rich pelagic sediments to the mantle lithosphere below the block. Similar to controls for the carbonatite-related REE deposits, deep faults and lithospheric discontinuities provide the paths for REE-rich mantle material to return to shallow levels of the crust in evolved granite magmas.

HREE mobilization and enrichment during weathering and genesis of IAR deposits

The REE element enrichment may be added to the parent granite rock during hydrothermal processes, such as documented at the Zudong deposit (Huang et al., 1989b). This, therefore, indicates that at least some of the anomalous REE in the granite need not be the product of primary magmatic evolution. The Middle Jurassic Guanxi biotite granite located to the east of the Zudong granite (Fig. 6) is associated with the Guangxi REE deposit. The Guangxi granite has an initial 87Sr/86Sr value of 0.7056, indicating a different source from the Late Jurassic Zudong granite (Huang et al., 1989b), although both are associated with important REE deposits, and the Guanxi deposit is more LREE enriched. Different chondritenormalized REE patterns also characterize the two granites (Huang et al., 1989b). Consequently, Zhang (1993) proposed that hypogene hydrothermal alteration played an important role in enriching some, but not all, granites that weathered to form the IAR mineralization. Furthermore, large variations in REE patterns in the weathered crust are not consistent with fractionation during the weathering process (Wang and Liu, 2012).

The enrichment of REE in the weathering profile, nevertheless, is not only controlled by parent rock type, mineral assemblage, and the occurrence and content of REE in the parent rock, but also by the local climate, groundwater patterns, and deposit area geomorphology. The REE mobilization and accumulation in the weathering profiles appears to be controlled specifically by the abundance and distribution of REE-bearing minerals in the parent granites, as well as the stability of these minerals during weathering, (e.g., Humphris, 1984). The enrichment of REE in the weathering profile is also partly controlled by the adsorption ability of organic matter, clay minerals, phosphates, and Fe oxides/ hydroxides (Song et al., 2006). The REE-bearing minerals in the parent rock include fluorine-bearing carbonate (e.g., bastnaesite, synchysite, and yttroparisite), silicates (e.g., zircon, allanite, and spinthere), or phosphates (e.g., monazite and xenotime), as well as isomorphic phases in hornblende, feldspar, biotite, and zircon. Fluorine-bearing carbonate is much easier to break down during the weathering process than the silicates and phosphates because the carbonate dissolves easily in acidic groundwater.

The local elevation provides critical controls on IAR deposit formation. Where the altitude is less than 500 m, and the local relief is less than 150 m, a large and deep lateritic weathering cap forms with a strong layered structure (He and Wang, 1989). Subtropical climatic conditions, such as the warm and humid environment of southern China with locally more than 1,500 mm of precipitation annually, enhance development of IAR mineralization (Bao and Zhao, 2008). The abundance of organic matter in the soil profile plays an important role in the REE mobilization (Chen et al., 1993). Based on experimental results, Lin and Zheng (1994) indicated that the REE concentrations of the leaching solutions, their pH and ionic strength, water-to-rock ratios, and temperature are the dominant factors affecting REE adsorption to clay minerals. Continued leaching, coupled with a low rate of denudation, preferentially results in the accumulation of REE in the subsurface B and C soil horizons of mature weathering profiles (Bao and Zhao, 2008). Additional discussion of IAR deposits can be found in Sanematsu and Watanabe (2016).

Conclusions

  1. China has the largest REE resources in the world, with confirmed 208 Mt of REE oxide resources. Deposit types include carbonatite-related, ion-adsorbed clays, placers and beach placers, and pegmatite-hosted, as well as byproduct production from clay, bauxite, and U deposits. The carbonatite-related deposits define the largest LREE resources, accounting for 98.15% of the total resource in China, and the IAR deposits provide the most important HREE resources in China.

  2. The major LREE deposits in China occurs within four metallogenic areas, including the Langshan-Bayan Obo belt along the northern margin of North China craton, the Weishan-Laiwu-Zibo belt along the eastern margin of North China block, the Mianning-Dechang belt in the western margin of Yangtze block, and the Miaoya deposit in the southern margin of the North China block. The margins to the Precambrian cratonic blocks define the firstorder structural control for the major LREE deposits in China.

  3. Almost all the hypogene REE deposits in China occur along margins of Precambrian blocks that are reactivated cratonic fragments. The ores are associated with continental rift zones and strike-slip faults, which comprise major lithosphere discontinuities. Long-term subduction from Neoarchean to Phanerozoic contributed REE-rich pelagic sediment to the underlying mantle and developed REE-rich mantle lithosphere reservoirs below much of the North China and South China blocks. Reactivation of the margins to the blocks allowed the deep fault zones to tap and aid the ascent of REE-rich mantle magma.

  4. The IAR deposits in China occur mainly in the weathering profile of granitoids that vary in age from Mesoproterozoic to Cenozoic in the South China block. Minor IAR deposits also occur in the weathering profile of lamprophyre, basalt, and tuff.

  5. In addition to the REE enrichment associated with the supergene weathering process, earlier hypogene REE concentration during hydrothermal alteration caused an enrichment in granitic parent rock for the IAR. The wide range of parent-rock compositions, magma sources, ages associated with the IAR deposits, and the spatial distribution of these deposits implies that REE-enriched mantle and major structures were important for the significant HREE resources.

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Acknowledgments

This paper was financially supported by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (41072066) and the IGCP/ SIDA-600 project. Many thanks to Philip Verplanck for his kind invitation to submit this review paper. Many thanks to Baoshun Liu and Quanli Wang for their help in data processing and drafting. The use of trade, product, industry, or firm names in this report is for descriptive purpose only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Government.

Figures & Tables

Fig. 1.

Relative resource percentages of various REE deposit types in China. Abbreviations: BR = deposits with REE as by-products, CR = carbonatite-related REE deposits, IAR = ion adsorption REE deposits, PR = placer and beach placer REE deposits, OR = other and unknown types of REE deposits.

Fig. 1.

Relative resource percentages of various REE deposit types in China. Abbreviations: BR = deposits with REE as by-products, CR = carbonatite-related REE deposits, IAR = ion adsorption REE deposits, PR = placer and beach placer REE deposits, OR = other and unknown types of REE deposits.

Fig. 2.

The distribution of carbonatite-related REE deposits in China with tectonic setting (for deposit numbers, see Table 1; tectonic setting based on Kusky et al., 2007). Abbreviations: AHO = Alpine-Himalayan orogen, CAO = Central Asia orogen, CC = Cathaysia craton, CCO = central China orogen, NCC = North China craton, SGO = Songpan-Ganzi orogen, TM = Tarim block, YC = Yangtze craton.

Fig. 2.

The distribution of carbonatite-related REE deposits in China with tectonic setting (for deposit numbers, see Table 1; tectonic setting based on Kusky et al., 2007). Abbreviations: AHO = Alpine-Himalayan orogen, CAO = Central Asia orogen, CC = Cathaysia craton, CCO = central China orogen, NCC = North China craton, SGO = Songpan-Ganzi orogen, TM = Tarim block, YC = Yangtze craton.

Fig. 3.

The distribution of ion adsorption REE deposits in China with tectonic settings (for deposit numbers, see Table 2; tectonic setting same as Fig. 2). Green filled circle = deposit, blue filled square = key deposits, red line = regional fault (based on Ren et al., 1999); red dashed line = estimated regional fault based on RS image.

Fig. 3.

The distribution of ion adsorption REE deposits in China with tectonic settings (for deposit numbers, see Table 2; tectonic setting same as Fig. 2). Green filled circle = deposit, blue filled square = key deposits, red line = regional fault (based on Ren et al., 1999); red dashed line = estimated regional fault based on RS image.

Fig. 4.

The distribution of placer, beach placer, and other types of REE deposits in China with tectonic settings (tectonic setting same as Fig. 2)

Fig. 4.

The distribution of placer, beach placer, and other types of REE deposits in China with tectonic settings (tectonic setting same as Fig. 2)

Fig. 5.

Simplified geologic map of the Bayan Obo REE deposit, Inner Mongolia (modified after Chao et al., 1997).

Fig. 5.

Simplified geologic map of the Bayan Obo REE deposit, Inner Mongolia (modified after Chao et al., 1997).

Fig. 6.

Ore deposit model for the Bayan Obo REE deposit, showing the orestyle variations in the deposit.

Fig. 6.

Ore deposit model for the Bayan Obo REE deposit, showing the orestyle variations in the deposit.

Fig. 7.

Simplified geologic map of the Maoniuping REE deposit (after Yuan et al, 1995). Abbreviations: AG = alkaline granite, Carb = carbonatite, D2 = Middle Devonian, OB = orebody, Ry = rhyolite, Sy = syenite.

Fig. 7.

Simplified geologic map of the Maoniuping REE deposit (after Yuan et al, 1995). Abbreviations: AG = alkaline granite, Carb = carbonatite, D2 = Middle Devonian, OB = orebody, Ry = rhyolite, Sy = syenite.

Fig. 8.

Deposit model showing the zonation of mineralizing style for deposits of the Mianning-Dechang REE belt. 1 = REE vein and stockwork in nordmarkite, 2 = ore in pegmatite dike, 3 = ore along the contact between carbonatite and nordmarkite, 4 = disseminated ore in the center of carbonatite dike, 5 = breccia ore with carbonatite cement in the outer zone of carbonatite dike; Carb = carbonatite; Bar = barite, Bast = bastnaesite, Cal = calcite, Fl = fluorite, Nord = nordmarkite, Q = quartz.

Fig. 8.

Deposit model showing the zonation of mineralizing style for deposits of the Mianning-Dechang REE belt. 1 = REE vein and stockwork in nordmarkite, 2 = ore in pegmatite dike, 3 = ore along the contact between carbonatite and nordmarkite, 4 = disseminated ore in the center of carbonatite dike, 5 = breccia ore with carbonatite cement in the outer zone of carbonatite dike; Carb = carbonatite; Bar = barite, Bast = bastnaesite, Cal = calcite, Fl = fluorite, Nord = nordmarkite, Q = quartz.

Fig. 9.

The distribution of intrusive and volcanic rocks in the Longnan-Xunwu area with deposit location (after Guo, 2010).

Fig. 9.

The distribution of intrusive and volcanic rocks in the Longnan-Xunwu area with deposit location (after Guo, 2010).

Fig. 10.

Geologic map of Zudong HREE deposit (after Huang et al., 1988).

Fig. 10.

Geologic map of Zudong HREE deposit (after Huang et al., 1988).

Fig. 11.

Deposit model for the Zudong IAR deposit, Jiangxi province (based on Wu et al., 1988). Zone A = soil cap, Zone B = wholly weathered zone, Zone C = semi-weathered zone.

Fig. 11.

Deposit model for the Zudong IAR deposit, Jiangxi province (based on Wu et al., 1988). Zone A = soil cap, Zone B = wholly weathered zone, Zone C = semi-weathered zone.

Fig. 12.

Geologic map of the Heling LREE deposit (after Zhang and Ye, 1995).

Fig. 12.

Geologic map of the Heling LREE deposit (after Zhang and Ye, 1995).

Carbonatite-Related REE Deposits in China

Table 1.
Carbonatite-Related REE Deposits in China
No Deposit Location Main
commodity
Average grade (REO wt %) Total resource (REO) Reporting
year
Reference
C1 Baynan Obo (Main and East orebody) Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 6 57.4 Mt 2014 Fan et al. (2014)
Baynan Obo (West orebody) Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 1.158-3.026 60.67 Mt 2005 *
Bayan Obo surrounding area (including Boluotou, East
Jielegele, etc.)
Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 3.14 10.47 Mt 2009 *
C2 Baerzhe (801) Zhalute, Inner Mongolia Nb / 245,757 t (Nb2O5) 2009 *
C3 Taohualashan Alashanyouqi, Inner Mongolia Nb / 7,760 t (Nb2O5) 1975 *
C4 Dulahala Baotou, Inner Mongolia Nb, Fe, REE 0.3-3 21.76 Mt 1967 *
C5 Ganluodi Xichang, Sichuan province Nb, Zr / / 1966 *
C6 Lizhuang Mianning, Sichuan province LRE, Nb, Th, Ba 1.47-1.63 5,764 t 2006 *
C7 Muluo Mianning, Sichuan province LREE, fluorite / 0.1 Mt 2011 *
C8 Maoniuping Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 2.95 3.17 Mt 2010 **
C9 Nanhe Mianning, Sichuan province LREE, Y 5.25-6.4 14,725 t 2005 *
C10 Haha Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 3.15-4.05 966 t 2005 *
C11 Baozishan Mianning, Sichuan province LREE / / 1966 *
C12 Sanchahe Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 1.86 6,177 t 2009 *
C13 Dalucao Dechang, Sichuan province LREE, Pb 5.21 81,556 t 2007 *
C14 Chishan Weishan, Shandong province LREE 3.25 119,962 t 1975 *
C15 Longbaoshan Cangshan, Shandong province LREE 2.1-3.54 12,431 t 1997 *
C16 Badoushan Zibo, Shandong province LREE 0.13-0.21 1,952 t 2001 *
C17 Hujiazhuang Laiwu, Shandong province Nb, REE, P 1 9,994 t 1973 *
C18 Miaoya Zhushan, Hubei province REE, Nb 1.5 392,974 t 1981 *
C19 Jiertage Kashi area, Xinjing REE 3.46 5,678 t 2002 Zou et al. (2002)
C20 Sitaduwei Baicheng, Xinjing REE 0.037-0.111 REE occurence 2002 Zou et al. (2002)
No Deposit Location Main
commodity
Average grade (REO wt %) Total resource (REO) Reporting
year
Reference
C1 Baynan Obo (Main and East orebody) Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 6 57.4 Mt 2014 Fan et al. (2014)
Baynan Obo (West orebody) Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 1.158-3.026 60.67 Mt 2005 *
Bayan Obo surrounding area (including Boluotou, East
Jielegele, etc.)
Baotou, Inner Mongolia LREE, Nb, Th, Fe 3.14 10.47 Mt 2009 *
C2 Baerzhe (801) Zhalute, Inner Mongolia Nb / 245,757 t (Nb2O5) 2009 *
C3 Taohualashan Alashanyouqi, Inner Mongolia Nb / 7,760 t (Nb2O5) 1975 *
C4 Dulahala Baotou, Inner Mongolia Nb, Fe, REE 0.3-3 21.76 Mt 1967 *
C5 Ganluodi Xichang, Sichuan province Nb, Zr / / 1966 *
C6 Lizhuang Mianning, Sichuan province LRE, Nb, Th, Ba 1.47-1.63 5,764 t 2006 *
C7 Muluo Mianning, Sichuan province LREE, fluorite / 0.1 Mt 2011 *
C8 Maoniuping Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 2.95 3.17 Mt 2010 **
C9 Nanhe Mianning, Sichuan province LREE, Y 5.25-6.4 14,725 t 2005 *
C10 Haha Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 3.15-4.05 966 t 2005 *
C11 Baozishan Mianning, Sichuan province LREE / / 1966 *
C12 Sanchahe Mianning, Sichuan province LREE 1.86 6,177 t 2009 *
C13 Dalucao Dechang, Sichuan province LREE, Pb 5.21 81,556 t 2007 *
C14 Chishan Weishan, Shandong province LREE 3.25 119,962 t 1975 *
C15 Longbaoshan Cangshan, Shandong province LREE 2.1-3.54 12,431 t 1997 *
C16 Badoushan Zibo, Shandong province LREE 0.13-0.21 1,952 t 2001 *
C17 Hujiazhuang Laiwu, Shandong province Nb, REE, P 1 9,994 t 1973 *
C18 Miaoya Zhushan, Hubei province REE, Nb 1.5 392,974 t 1981 *
C19 Jiertage Kashi area, Xinjing REE 3.46 5,678 t 2002 Zou et al. (2002)
C20 Sitaduwei Baicheng, Xinjing REE 0.037-0.111 REE occurence 2002 Zou et al. (2002)

Notes: * = Online material from National Geology Archives of China (http://www.ngac.cn/) and the references herein; ** = 109 Geological Brigade of Sichuan Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resource (2010); “/” = grade or tonnage data not acquired

Ion Adsorption-Type (including associated residue placer) REE Deposits in China1

Table 2.
Ion Adsorption-Type (including associated residue placer) REE Deposits in China1

Placer and Beach Placer-Type REE Deposits in China 1

Table 3.
Placer and Beach Placer-Type REE Deposits in China 1
No Deposit Location Main commodities Average grade (g/m3) Total resource (t) Reporting year
S1 Mengwang monazite deposit Menghai, Yunnan province Moz, Zr, Ilm, Ru Moz: 620; Zr: 690; Ilm: 5,052 Moz: 12,645; Zr: 13,863; Ilm: 101,522 1963
S2 Niulanyong monazite deposit Yangjiang, Guangdong province Moz / Moz: 5,725 1959
S3 Helukou fergusonite deposit Jianghua, Hunan province Fet Fet: 50-150 Fet: 172,039 1961
S4 Qiancaochong-Yangjiaping fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet, Xt, Moz, Zr, Nt, Ilm, Cas, Wof Fet: 50-70 Fet: 6 1960
S5 Shilichong fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet, Moz Fet: 50; Moz: 40 Fet: 2; Moz: 4 1960
S6 Dazipengwa fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet Fe: 50; Moz: 1,120 Fet: 16; Moz: 48 1960
S7 Yiyang river deposit Anren, Hunan province Zr, Moz / Zr: 470; Moz: 80; Ilm:13,660 1960
S8 Liuli’ao monazite deposit Tongcheng, Hubei province Moz, Zr, Ru / Moz: 1,375 1960
S9 Juanshui monazite deposit Chongyang, Hubei province Moz, Zr, Gar, Ru Moz: 334-611 Moz: 13,937 1960
S10 Wudong monazite deposit Xinxing, Guangdong province Moz / 747 1955
S11 Sheyu monazite and zircon deposit Xinxing, Guangdong province Moz, Zr, Ilm Moz: 312; Zr: 441 Moz: 8,975; Zr: 11,777; Ilm: 7,541 1960
S12 Jiaokeng deposit Taishan, Guangdong province Fet Fet: 88.44 Fet: 18 1960
S13 Gudoutianchang REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr, Cas Fet: 56-251;
Moz: 3.8-20.6; Zr: 2.2; Cas: 42.5-248.4
Fet: 4; Cas: 5 1959
S14 Taling fergusonite deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz Fet: 93; Moz: 190; Zr: 165 Fet: 85; Moz: 174; Zr: 151 1960
S15 Sancun REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Fet: 58.4; Moz: 207; Zr: 67 Moz: 939; Fet: 183; Zr: 533 1960
S16 West bank of Tan river (Tanjiangxi’an) monazite and zircon deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Moz, Zr Moz: 350-228; Zr: 291-168 Moz: 952; Zr: 924; Fet: 6 1960
S17 Hengshui REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Fet: 5.4-95.9; Moz: 11.15-260.48; Zr: 24.08-255 Fet 34; Moz 75 1959
S18 Shikengkou deposit Taishan, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Moz: 52.6; Fet: 39 Fet: 9 1960
S19 Goupili monazite deposit Heyuan, Guangdong province Moz / / 1958
S20 Jingqu Ta-niobite deposit Zhaoqing, Guangdong province Tn, Moz, Ilm Tn: 119 Nb2O5: 5; Ilm: 3; Moz: 2 1972
S21 Madianhe xenotime deposit Dianbai, Guangdong province Xt, Moz, Zr Xt: 111-133; Moz: 90-350; Zr: 744-860; Ilm: 450-463 Xt: 1,069; Ilm: 4,437 1973
S22 Wuhe deposit Guangning, Guangdong province Moz, Xt, Zr, Ilm Moz: 423; Xt: 132; Zr: 100-200; Ilm: 150-300 Moz: 495; Xt: 155 1970
S23 Nansandao deposit Zhanjiang, Guangdong province Xt, Moz Zr: 1,021-1,882; Moz: 118-354 Zr: 19,836 1959
S24 Zhapozhen deposit Yangjiang, Guangdong province Moz Moz: 550 Moz: 236 1959
S25 Wangcungang deposit Dianbai, Guangdong province Zr, Moz, Ilm Zr: 1,640; Moz: 222 Zr: 2,304 1959
No Deposit Location Main commodities Average grade (g/m3) Total resource (t) Reporting year
S1 Mengwang monazite deposit Menghai, Yunnan province Moz, Zr, Ilm, Ru Moz: 620; Zr: 690; Ilm: 5,052 Moz: 12,645; Zr: 13,863; Ilm: 101,522 1963
S2 Niulanyong monazite deposit Yangjiang, Guangdong province Moz / Moz: 5,725 1959
S3 Helukou fergusonite deposit Jianghua, Hunan province Fet Fet: 50-150 Fet: 172,039 1961
S4 Qiancaochong-Yangjiaping fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet, Xt, Moz, Zr, Nt, Ilm, Cas, Wof Fet: 50-70 Fet: 6 1960
S5 Shilichong fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet, Moz Fet: 50; Moz: 40 Fet: 2; Moz: 4 1960
S6 Dazipengwa fergusonite deposit Lanjia, Hunan province Fet Fe: 50; Moz: 1,120 Fet: 16; Moz: 48 1960
S7 Yiyang river deposit Anren, Hunan province Zr, Moz / Zr: 470; Moz: 80; Ilm:13,660 1960
S8 Liuli’ao monazite deposit Tongcheng, Hubei province Moz, Zr, Ru / Moz: 1,375 1960
S9 Juanshui monazite deposit Chongyang, Hubei province Moz, Zr, Gar, Ru Moz: 334-611 Moz: 13,937 1960
S10 Wudong monazite deposit Xinxing, Guangdong province Moz / 747 1955
S11 Sheyu monazite and zircon deposit Xinxing, Guangdong province Moz, Zr, Ilm Moz: 312; Zr: 441 Moz: 8,975; Zr: 11,777; Ilm: 7,541 1960
S12 Jiaokeng deposit Taishan, Guangdong province Fet Fet: 88.44 Fet: 18 1960
S13 Gudoutianchang REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr, Cas Fet: 56-251;
Moz: 3.8-20.6; Zr: 2.2; Cas: 42.5-248.4
Fet: 4; Cas: 5 1959
S14 Taling fergusonite deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz Fet: 93; Moz: 190; Zr: 165 Fet: 85; Moz: 174; Zr: 151 1960
S15 Sancun REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Fet: 58.4; Moz: 207; Zr: 67 Moz: 939; Fet: 183; Zr: 533 1960
S16 West bank of Tan river (Tanjiangxi’an) monazite and zircon deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Moz, Zr Moz: 350-228; Zr: 291-168 Moz: 952; Zr: 924; Fet: 6 1960
S17 Hengshui REE deposit Xinhui, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Fet: 5.4-95.9; Moz: 11.15-260.48; Zr: 24.08-255 Fet 34; Moz 75 1959
S18 Shikengkou deposit Taishan, Guangdong province Fet, Moz, Zr Moz: 52.6; Fet: 39 Fet: 9 1960
S19 Goupili monazite deposit Heyuan, Guangdong province Moz / / 1958
S20 Jingqu Ta-niobite deposit Zhaoqing, Guangdong province Tn, Moz, Ilm Tn: 119 Nb2O5: 5; Ilm: 3; Moz: 2 1972
S21 Madianhe xenotime deposit Dianbai, Guangdong province Xt, Moz, Zr Xt: 111-133; Moz: 90-350; Zr: 744-860; Ilm: 450-463 Xt: 1,069; Ilm: 4,437 1973
S22 Wuhe deposit Guangning, Guangdong province Moz, Xt, Zr, Ilm Moz: 423; Xt: 132; Zr: 100-200; Ilm: 150-300 Moz: 495; Xt: 155 1970
S23 Nansandao deposit Zhanjiang, Guangdong province Xt, Moz Zr: 1,021-1,882; Moz: 118-354 Zr: 19,836 1959
S24 Zhapozhen deposit Yangjiang, Guangdong province Moz Moz: 550 Moz: 236 1959
S25 Wangcungang deposit Dianbai, Guangdong province Zr, Moz, Ilm Zr: 1,640; Moz: 222 Zr: 2,304 1959

Notes: Abbreviations: Cas = cassiterite, Fet = fergusonite, Gar = garnet, Ilm = ilmenite, Moz = monazite, Nb = niobite, Nt = niotanite, Ru = rutile, Tn = tanniobite, Wf = wolframite, Xt = xenotime, Zr = zircon; “/” = grade or tonnage data not acquired

1

Online material from National Geology Archives of China (http://www.ngac.cn/) and the references herein

Other REE Deposit Types in China

Table 4.
Other REE Deposit Types in China
No Deposit Location Main commodities Average grade (REO wt % 3) Deposite type Reporting year Total resource (REO, t) Reference
O1 Zhoujiagou Fangshan; Shanxi province Eux, Xt / Granite-related 1972 3,069! *
O2 Yuantou Huayin; Shanxi province Moz, Alt / Vein style 1972 2,490 *
O3 Zhuangzishang Suozhou, Shanxi province Apt, REE / Vein style 1962 7,085 *
O4 Wanghuizhuang Datong; Shanxi province P2O5, REE 1.95-3.75 Vein style 1974 2,200 *
O5 Dazhuzhi Rizhao; Shandong province Moz, U, Th / Unknown 1980 51,000 *
O6 Butou Laixi; Shandong province Moz, U, Th 0.016 Pegmatite 1974 398 *
O7 Ninghua Ninghua; Fujian province REE, Sc / Unknown 1988 8,000 *
O8 Yihenchahan Wulate; Inner Mongolia Alt, REE / Unknown 2009 6,714 *
O9 Zhaojinggou Wuchuan, Inner Mongolia Nb, Tb, REE / Unknown 1972 864 *
O10 Hayehutong Baotou; Inner Mongolia Alt, REE 0.0054 Pegmatite 1957 906 *
O11 Chahangou Chayou; Inner Mongolia LREE, Te 0.0204 Pegmatite 1972 229 *
O12 Chaganmiao Wulate; Inner Mongolia REE, Nb, Th, U, Be0.0020 Granite 1959 4,324 *
O13 Laohuchong Yingshan; Hubei province Y0.074-0.082 Metamorphosed
volcanic
1979 3,454 *
O14 Guangshui Yingshan; Hubei province Y 0.0009 Unknown 1980 8,334 *
O15 Dengjiawan Dawu; Hubei province Y0.054-0.064 Unknown 1979 246 *
O16 Dazhaiyu Luanchuan; Henan province Y Hydrothermal 1971 684 *
O17 514 Yunfu; Guangdong province Xt 0.0005 Granite 1973 / *
O18 Aizizhen Shixing; Guangdong province Fe, Xt, Moz / Pegmatite 1970 21 *
O19 Xiangumiao and Shanglai Luoding; Guangdong province Xt, Moz / Granite 1972 / *
O20 Xijiangpai Shicheng; Jiangxi province Xt, Eux, Moz 0.0002 Pegmatite 1972 532 *
O21 Liantang Shicheng; Jiangxi province Nb, Ta, REE 0.0002 Pegmatite 1977 1,487 *
O22 Ganshahenao Tianzhu; Gansu province Zr, Ilm0.0089 Pegmatite 1999 136,136 *
O23 301 Wuhai; N Inner Mongolia Li, Th, REE 0.08-0.19 Alkaline rock 1961 4,738 *
O24 Ketagexi Weili county, Xinjing REE, Nb, Ta, Zr 0.045-0.099 Alkaline syenite 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
O25 Boziguoer Baicheng, Xinjiang REE, Y, Nb, Ta 0.07-0.19 Alkaline granite 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
O26 Yilankeli Baicheng, Xinjiang REE, Y 1.559 Alkaline pegmatite 2002 Not confirmedZou et al. (2002)
O27 Kuoshibulake Atushi city, Xinjiang REE, Y 2.433 Hydrothermal 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
No Deposit Location Main commodities Average grade (REO wt % 3) Deposite type Reporting year Total resource (REO, t) Reference
O1 Zhoujiagou Fangshan; Shanxi province Eux, Xt / Granite-related 1972 3,069! *
O2 Yuantou Huayin; Shanxi province Moz, Alt / Vein style 1972 2,490 *
O3 Zhuangzishang Suozhou, Shanxi province Apt, REE / Vein style 1962 7,085 *
O4 Wanghuizhuang Datong; Shanxi province P2O5, REE 1.95-3.75 Vein style 1974 2,200 *
O5 Dazhuzhi Rizhao; Shandong province Moz, U, Th / Unknown 1980 51,000 *
O6 Butou Laixi; Shandong province Moz, U, Th 0.016 Pegmatite 1974 398 *
O7 Ninghua Ninghua; Fujian province REE, Sc / Unknown 1988 8,000 *
O8 Yihenchahan Wulate; Inner Mongolia Alt, REE / Unknown 2009 6,714 *
O9 Zhaojinggou Wuchuan, Inner Mongolia Nb, Tb, REE / Unknown 1972 864 *
O10 Hayehutong Baotou; Inner Mongolia Alt, REE 0.0054 Pegmatite 1957 906 *
O11 Chahangou Chayou; Inner Mongolia LREE, Te 0.0204 Pegmatite 1972 229 *
O12 Chaganmiao Wulate; Inner Mongolia REE, Nb, Th, U, Be0.0020 Granite 1959 4,324 *
O13 Laohuchong Yingshan; Hubei province Y0.074-0.082 Metamorphosed
volcanic
1979 3,454 *
O14 Guangshui Yingshan; Hubei province Y 0.0009 Unknown 1980 8,334 *
O15 Dengjiawan Dawu; Hubei province Y0.054-0.064 Unknown 1979 246 *
O16 Dazhaiyu Luanchuan; Henan province Y Hydrothermal 1971 684 *
O17 514 Yunfu; Guangdong province Xt 0.0005 Granite 1973 / *
O18 Aizizhen Shixing; Guangdong province Fe, Xt, Moz / Pegmatite 1970 21 *
O19 Xiangumiao and Shanglai Luoding; Guangdong province Xt, Moz / Granite 1972 / *
O20 Xijiangpai Shicheng; Jiangxi province Xt, Eux, Moz 0.0002 Pegmatite 1972 532 *
O21 Liantang Shicheng; Jiangxi province Nb, Ta, REE 0.0002 Pegmatite 1977 1,487 *
O22 Ganshahenao Tianzhu; Gansu province Zr, Ilm0.0089 Pegmatite 1999 136,136 *
O23 301 Wuhai; N Inner Mongolia Li, Th, REE 0.08-0.19 Alkaline rock 1961 4,738 *
O24 Ketagexi Weili county, Xinjing REE, Nb, Ta, Zr 0.045-0.099 Alkaline syenite 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
O25 Boziguoer Baicheng, Xinjiang REE, Y, Nb, Ta 0.07-0.19 Alkaline granite 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)
O26 Yilankeli Baicheng, Xinjiang REE, Y 1.559 Alkaline pegmatite 2002 Not confirmedZou et al. (2002)
O27 Kuoshibulake Atushi city, Xinjiang REE, Y 2.433 Hydrothermal 2002 Not confirmed Zou et al. (2002)

Notes: * = Online material from National Geology Archives of China ( http://www.ngac.cn/ ) and the references herein; abbreviations: Alt = allanite, Eux = euxenite, Ilm = ilmenite, Moz = monazite, Xt = xenotime, Zr = zircon; “/” = grade or tonnage data not acquired

1 For Xt, not REO

Deposits with REE As By-products In China

Table 5.
Deposits with REE As By-products In China
No. Deposit Location Economic
commodity
Average grade (REO, wt %) Discovery
date
Total REE resource (REO, t)
B1 Xiangwang Xiaoyi; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2003 373,407
B2 Xihonghe Xinzhou; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2007 6,717
B3 Tuanshuitou Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 19,248
B4 Houtashang Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 7,193
B5 Tiejincun Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2004 36,281
B6 Puyi Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 35,500
B7 Qinghe Ji’an; Jilin province U 0.014-0.043 / /
B8 Shiqiehe Baode; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2005 9,959
B9 Aoshan Maanshan; Anhui province Fe / 1959 /
B10 Qiganliang Fengzhen; Neimeng province P / 1973 13,425
B11 Kenwei Qingyuan; Guangdong province Kao / 1987 175
B12. Shawei Huiyang Kao, Ta, Y, Moz, Xt / 1977 Nb2O5: 497; Ta2O5: 514; Xt: 1,674; Moz: 487
No. Deposit Location Economic
commodity
Average grade (REO, wt %) Discovery
date
Total REE resource (REO, t)
B1 Xiangwang Xiaoyi; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2003 373,407
B2 Xihonghe Xinzhou; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2007 6,717
B3 Tuanshuitou Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 19,248
B4 Houtashang Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 7,193
B5 Tiejincun Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2004 36,281
B6 Puyi Lvliang; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2006 35,500
B7 Qinghe Ji’an; Jilin province U 0.014-0.043 / /
B8 Shiqiehe Baode; Shanxi province Bauxite / 2005 9,959
B9 Aoshan Maanshan; Anhui province Fe / 1959 /
B10 Qiganliang Fengzhen; Neimeng province P / 1973 13,425
B11 Kenwei Qingyuan; Guangdong province Kao / 1987 175
B12. Shawei Huiyang Kao, Ta, Y, Moz, Xt / 1977 Nb2O5: 497; Ta2O5: 514; Xt: 1,674; Moz: 487

Notes: * = Online material from National Geology Archives of China ( http://www.ngac.cn/ ) and the references herein; abbreviations: Kao = kaolinite, Moz = monazite, Xt = xenotime; “/” = grade or tonnage data not acquired

Contents

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