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Major deposits of rare earth elements reported at Ramaco’s Brook Mine in Wyoming

The date of: 2023-05-09
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source:Green Car Congress

In association with researchers from the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and analysts at mining consultancy Weir International, metallurgical coal producer Ramaco Resources released an independent Exploration Target report with technical assessment of rare earth elements (REE) found at its Brook Mine in Wyoming.

Following eighteen months of extensive core drilling and independent chemical analysis, NETL researchers and Ramaco now believe that the Brook Mine property contains perhaps the largest unconventional deposit of REEs discovered in the United States.

In particular, the mine ranks among the highest relative concentrations yet discovered of magnetic REEs (MREE) such as heavy REEs Terbium and Dysprosium, as well as lighter REEs such as Neodymium and Praseodymium. Initial estimates are that approximately 28% of deposit concentrations may be in the form of MREEs.

NETL analysis shows that core samples from the Brook Mine represent highly promising, world-class MREE and HREE accumulations. These deposits contain these valuable REEs on par with conventional REE deposits, but with much less of the low-value lanthanum and cerium that must be removed by separations. Based on this data, the Brook Mine could rank among the more promising deposits on a worldwide basis, including Chinese HREE deposits.

China currently produces the vast majority of REEs, which are increasingly important in defense, industrial, and consumer technologies. Congress and the Department of Energy have earmarked billions of dollars toward this goal, and a bipartisan bill introduced earlier this year would establish tax credits to support the production of magnetic REEs like those found at the Brook Mine.

The majority of REE deposits outside of China are associated with conventional mines and found in igneous hard rock deposits, which makes them both difficult and expensive to mine and process. In contrast, the REEs from the Brook Mine are characterized as unconventional because they are largely found in clay strata located above and below the coal seams themselves. It is expected they can be mined using normal surface mining techniques and processed in a more economic and environmental manner than conventional REE mines.

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