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For nearly 50 years, carbonatites have been the primary source of niobium and rare earth elements (REEs), in particular the light REEs, including La, Ce, Pr, and Nd. Carbonatites are a relatively rare type of igneous rock composed of greater than 50 vol % primary carbonate minerals, primarily calcite and/or dolomite, and contain the highest concentrations of REEs of any igneous rocks. Although there are more than 500 known carbonatites in the world, currently only four are being mined for REEs: the Bayan Obo, Maoniuping, and Dalucao deposits in China, and the Mountain Pass deposit in California, United States....

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