Rare Earths Discovered at Coal Site

As we search for sources of critical minerals available within the U.S., some are looking at coal in a new light. Randall Atkins, chairman and CEO of Ramaco Resources, discovered that coal at the company’s Brook Mine in Wyoming contained a rich source of rare earth elements. The company worked in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, who believe other companies may find rare earths in their coal as well. The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $17 million for three projects to support the design and construction of facilities to produce rare earth elements from coal-based resources.

Rare earths are used in technologies across industries, but China dominates the rare earths supply chain, accounting for 70 percent of global rare earth ore extraction and 90 percent of rare earth ore processing. Given the importance of rare earths to our modern way of life, countries around the world have been working feverishly to develop their own rare earths supply chains and wean their reliance off of China. Here in the U.S., Ramaco Resources recently hired a Director of Critical Minerals and Planning to oversee the development of its important discovery. Holding nearly a quarter of the world’s coal reserves, if the U.S. can support the development of rare earths from coal sites, it could further secure its supply chains and strengthen its global competitiveness for the future.