Rare-earth prospects in Canada

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 805, 1979

EDWARD R. ROSE, Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa

This paper summarizes and emphasizes the potential importance of Canadian rare-earth occurrences, and recommends that efforts to locate and evaluate rare-earth deposits should be increased. Increasing world markets, depending on intensive applied research into the numerous unique and remarkable chemical and physical properties of the rare-earth elements (REE), are developing; their properties and uses are becoming better known; methods of separation are much improved.The REE group comprises a Cerium (Light) subgroup of 7 metals and an Yttrium (Heavy) subgroup of 9 metals. REE are trace elements in many rocks and minerals, and major constituents of more than 50 rare-earth minerals, many of which are difficult to detect and identify. They occur preferentially in acidic and alkaline igneous and metamorphic rocks, including carbonatites, as well as in placer deposits, certain uranium deposits, phosphate rocks and others. The main ores now are bastnaesite (in Precambrian carbonatite), monazite and xenotime (in Recent beach sands) as well as uraninite and brannerite (in Huronian quartz-pebble conglomerate) and loperite (perovskite) and apatite (in alkaline complexes). World resources are summarized. Twenty mines in 1973 produced an estimated world total of about 31,000 tons of contained rare-earth oxides (REO), 19,341 tons of which came from one mine at Mountain Pass, California. A selected fifteen, of 315 or more Canadian occurrences, are briefly described and compared, and their relative merits indicated. Their abundance and variety suggest the possibility of finding high-grade deposits in many geological terranes in Canada.
Keywords: Rare earths, Cerium, Yttrium, Lanthanum, Prasoedymium, Neodymium, Promethium, Samarium, Europium, Gadolinium, Terbium, Dysprosium, Holmium, Erbium, Thulium, Ytterbium, Lutetium.