There is increased concern about the future availability of rare earth elements (REE) because of China's dominance as the supplier of more than 95 percent of world REE output, their decision to restrict exports of rare earth products, and the rapid increase in world-wide consumption of rare earth product. As a result, countries such as the United States, Japan, and member nations of the European Union face a future of tight supplies and high prices for rare earth products unless other sources of REE are found and developed (Long and others, 2010; U.S. Geological Survey, 2011, p. 128-129, 184-185). We report and describe a significant new deposit of light rare earth elements (LREE), estimated at 1 Mt, within the Khanneshin carbonatite complex of south Afghanistan. The potential resource is located in a remote and rugged part of the igneous complex in a region previously identified by Soviet geologists in the 1970s. This report reviews the geologic setting of LREE deposit, presents new geochemical data documenting the grade of LREE mineralization, briefly describes the mineralogy and mineralogical associations of the deposit, and presents a preliminary estimate of LREE resources based on our current understanding of the geology.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Rare earth element mineralogy, geochemistry, and preliminary resource assessment of the Khanneshin carbonatite complex, Helmand Province, Afghanistan