Security of supply of “hi-tech” raw materials (including the rare earth elements (REE) and some high-field-strength elements (HFSEs)) is a concern for the European Union. Exploration and research projects mostly focus on deposit- to outcrop-scale description of carbonatite- and alkaline igneous-associated REE-HFSE mineralization. The REE-HFSE mineral system concept and approach are at a nascent stage, so developed further here. However, before applying the mineral system approach to a chosen REE-HFSE metallogenic province its mineral system extent first needs defining and mapping. This shifts a mineral system project’s foundation from the
mineral system concept to a
province’s mineral system extent. The mapped extent is required to investigate systematically the pathways and potential trap locations along which the REE-HFSE mass may be distributed. A workflow is presented to standardize the 4-D definition of a REE-HFSE mineral system at province-scale: (a) Identify and hierarchically organize a mineral system’s genetically related sub-divisions and deposits, (b) map its known and possible maximum extents, (c) name it, (d) discern its size (known mineral endowment), and (e) assess the favorability of the critical components to prioritize further investigations. The workflow is designed to generate process-based perspective and improve predictive targeting effectiveness along under-evaluated plays of any mineral system, for the future risking, comparing and ranking of REE-HFSE provinces and plays.
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