- © 2012 by the Mineralogical Society of America
As a source of strategic commodities for high technologies, the deposits of rare earth elements (REEs) in China are a world-class phenomenon. The combination of the world's largest accumulation of REEs in the Bayan Obo deposit and the low cost of mining the extremely valuable heavy REEs from residual deposits makes China almost a monopoly producer. Research on a range of Chinese deposits shows that not only hypogene but also secondary processes create economic REE deposits. These deposits have characteristic REE distribution patterns, which range from primary light REE enrichment in carbonatites from the Himalayan Mianning–Dechang orogenic belt and in metamorphosed carbonatite and polyphase mineralization at Bayan Obo, through unusual flat REE patterns in carbonatites from the Qinling orogenic belt, to strong secondary heavy REE enrichment in residual clays from southern China.