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Ministry of Energy Mines and Responsible for Core Review

GeoFile 2011-8: Rare Earth Element Concentrations in Phosphate Deposits, Fernie Formation, Southeastern British Columbia, Canada

by G.J. Simandl, R. Fajber and D. Grieve

View GeoFile 2011-8 (PDF, 37 MB)


Sedimentary phosphate deposits are known to contain non-negligible concentrations of Rare Earth Elements (REE).  This conceptual study, based on 53 samples, gives an indication of the REE concentrations in phosphate rock occurrences located in southeast British Columbia. The emphasis of this study is on the Fernie Formation which is covered by 31 samples.  This study indicates that there is good positive correlation between P2O5 content and REE as well as strong positive correlation between Yttrium and the lanthanides. The Yttrium and neodymium concentrations of the Fernie Formation in particular are higher than expected.

Current prices of rare earth oxides are at or near an all time high. Assuming sufficient resources could be established, a follow-up study to investigate the economic potential of REE extraction as a by-product of the transformation of phosphate rock into fertilizers may be justified.    

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