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Ministry of Energy Mines and Responsible for Core Review

GeoFile 2011-9: Rare Earth Element Concentrations in Phosphate Deposits, Sulphur Mountain Formation, Northeastern British Columbia, Canada

by G.J. Simandl, R. Fajber and F. Ferri

View GeoFile 2011-9 (PDF, 15.2 MB)


This study covers concentrations of lanthanides and Y in phosphate deposits in northeastern British Columbia.  Fifty representative samples of phosphate rocks (containing from 0.1 to 29% P2O5), collected during the mid 1980's were re-analysed in 2009 for REEs using modern analytical technique (ICP-MS, following Li-metaborate fusion). They contain from 6 ppm to 972 ppm REE’s (not including Y) and from 5 ppm to 590 ppm Y.

The emphasis of this study is on the Sulphur Mountain formation (SMF) and more specifically at its Whistler member. In general, in decreasing order, Y, La, Nd and Ce are the most abundant REE’s in northeastern British Columbia. Samples from the Kechika formation are an exception because Ce, La, and Nd (in decreasing order) are more abundant than Y. 
Within the SMF, there is a good agreement between results obtained using ICP-MS and historical data for P and some of the REEs; however, results of historical La analyses are significantly lower than corresponding results obtained using modern ICP-MS.

Should any of the British Columbia phosphate deposits be considered as sources of phosphate raw material for fertilizer manufacturing, at current REE prices, the economic viability of REE recovery as a by-product of phosphate mining should be considered.
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