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01.09.2014 | Original Article | Ausgabe 6/2014

Environmental Earth Sciences 6/2014

Geochemical survey of rare earth elements (REEs) in the concealed ore body of Hongcheon, Korea

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Earth Sciences > Ausgabe 6/2014
Autoren:
Joo Sung Ahn, Seung-Jun Youm, Yong-Chan Cho, Seong-Cheon Shin, Wan-Hyoung Cho

Abstract

Because of the risk of diminishing supplies of rare earth elements (REEs) worldwide due to China’s dominance over REE supply, the necessity of developing domestic resources of REE has been realized in other countries. To explore new ore bodies, a geochemical survey was conducted at one existing carbonatite REE deposit in the Hongcheon area of Korea. Proper sampling strategies and baseline data for the interpretation of the results were determined through a pilot study conducted in the area. Enrichment in the concentration of light REE (LREE) over that of heavy REE, which is typical in carbonatite-type deposits, was observed in stream sediments and heavy mineral samples collected during the geochemical survey. Maximum concentrations of LREE were 2,299 and 27,798 mg/kg for stream sediments and heavy minerals, respectively. Among LREEs, La and Ce are the dominant components of all REEs, comprising approximately 68 % of mean concentrations. Considering the distribution pattern of La + Ce contents and the associations with the existing outcropping ore bodies, the zone of prospective REE mineralization was determined to be in the south-western part of the area. A detailed follow-up soil survey of the zone found even higher concentrations of La and Ce (2,450 and 3,100 mg/kg, respectively), and suggested the possible extension of the existing ore bodies. Likewise, a systematic geochemical survey for REE is feasible for locating concealed ore bodies in the area, where the mineralization is mostly covered with soil, and rock outcrops are scarce.

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