The rapid rise in world demand for the rare-earth elements (REEs) has expanded the search for new REE resources. We document two types of light rare-earth element (LREE)-enriched rocks in the Khanneshin carbonatite complex of southern Afghanistan: type 1 concordant seams of khanneshite-(Ce), synchysite-(Ce), and parisite-(Ce) within banded barite-strontianite alvikite, and type 2 igneous dikes of coarse-grained carbonatite, enriched in fluorine or phosphorus, containing idiomorphic crystals of khanneshite-(Ce) or carbocernaite. Type 1 mineralized barite-strontianite alvikite averages 22.25 wt % BaO, 4.27 wt % SrO, and 3.25 wt % ∑ LREE2O3 (sum of La, Ce, Pr, and Nd oxides). Type 2 igneous dikes average 14.51 wt % BaO, 5.96 wt % SrO, and 3.77 wt % ∑ LREE2O3. A magmatic origin is clearly indicated for the type 2 LREE-enriched dikes, and type 1 LREE mineralization probably formed in the presence of LREE-rich hydrothermal fluid. Both types of LREE mineralization may be penecontemporaneous, having formed in a carbonate-rich magma in the marginal zone of the central vent, highly charged with volatile constituents (i.e., CO2, F, P2O5), and strongly enriched in Ba, Sr, and the LREE. Based on several assumptions, and employing simple geometry for the zone of LREE enrichment, we estimate that at least 1.29 Mt (million metric tonnes) of LREE2O3 is present in this part of the Khanneshin carbonatite complex.
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A major light rare-earth element (LREE) resource in the Khanneshin carbonatite complex, southern Afghanistan