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Carbonatites of the world, explored deposits of Nb and REE— Database and grade and tonnage models

August 13, 2009

This report is based on published tonnage and grade data on 58 Nb- and rare-earth-element (REE)-bearing carbonatite deposits that are mostly well explored and are partially mined or contain resources of these elements. The deposits represent only a part of the known 527 carbonatites around the world, but they are characterized by reliable quantitative data on ore tonnages and grades of niobium and REE.

Grade and tonnage models are an important component of mineral resource assessments. Carbonatites present one of the main natural sources of niobium and rare-earth elements, the economic importance of which grows consistently. A purpose of this report is to update earlier publications. New information about known deposits, as well as data on new deposits published during the last decade, are incorporated in the present paper. The compiled database (appendix 1; linked to right) contains 60 explored Nb- and REE-bearing carbonatite deposits - resources of 55 of these deposits are taken from publications. In the present updated grade-tonnage model we have added 24 deposits comparing with the previous model of Singer (1998). Resources of most deposits are residuum ores in the upper part of carbonatite bodies.

Mineral-deposit models are important in exploration planning and quantitative resource assessments for two reasons: (1) grades and tonnages among deposit types vary significantly, and (2) deposits of different types are present in distinct geologic settings that can be identified from geologic maps. Mineral-deposit models combine the diverse geoscience information on geology, mineral occurrences, geophysics, and geochemistry used in resource assessments and mineral exploration. Globally based deposit models allow recognition of important features and demonstrate how common different features are. Well-designed deposit models allow geologists to deduce possible mineral-deposit types in a given geologic environment, and the grade and tonnage models allow economists to estimate the possible economic viability of these resources. Thus, mineral-deposit models play a central role in presenting geoscience information in a useful form to policy makers. The foundation of mineral-deposit models is information about known deposits. This publication presents the latest geologic information and newly developed grade and tonnage models for Nb- and REE-carbonatite deposits in digital form. The publication contains computer files with information on deposits from around the world. It also contains a text file allowing locations of all deposits to be plotted in geographic information system (GIS) programs. The data are presented in FileMaker Pro as well as in .xls and text files to make the information available to a broadly based audience. The value of this information and any derived analyses depends critically on the consistent manner of data gathering. For this reason, we first discuss the rules used in this compilation. Next, the fields of the database are explained. Finally, we provide new grade and tonnage models and analysis of the information in the file.

Publication Year 2009
Title Carbonatites of the world, explored deposits of Nb and REE— Database and grade and tonnage models
DOI 10.3133/ofr20091139
Authors Vladimir I. Berger, Donald A. Singer, Greta J. Orris
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2009-1139
Index ID ofr20091139
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Mineral Resources Science Center