Green Light for First New U.S. Rare Earth Mine in 70 Years

by | 8. Aug 2023 - 14:08 | Economy

Ramaco Resources targets start of development work in Wyoming in the fourth quarter.

U.S. mining company Ramaco Resources announced Monday that its board of directors has given the green light for the development of coal and rare earth deposits at the Brook Mine in Wyoming. The first steps for this are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2023. This would be the first rare earth mine in the U.S. in 70 years when the Mountain Pass Mine in California began operations. It supplies about 15 percent of the world’s needs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Brook Mine deposit is an unconventional deposit of rare earths found in the coal beds there, adjacent clays, and carbonaceous material on site, according to Ramaco. Mountain Pass, on the other hand, produces ores such as bastnäsite and monazite, which contain rare earth metals.

Just in May, Ramaco had reported the discovery of the deposit, which was estimated to contain 0.6 to 0.8 million tons of rare earth oxides. This figure has since been revised to 0.9 to 1.2 million tons. According to the company, this may be the largest unconventional rare earth deposit in the United States. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, rare earth consumption in the U.S. alone was 11,700 tons in 2019.

Besides Coal and Rare Earths, Indication of Technology Metals

However, there is still a long way to go from mining to further processing. Currently, the raw materials mined in Mountain Pass, for example, are shipped to China for refining, as there are no corresponding facilities in the USA. Among others, the Australian mining company Lynas, which specializes in rare earths, is planning to close this gap. The company already received a contract from the U.S. government last year to build a domestic rare earths processing plant in Texas. The size of that contract was now more than doubled to $258 million earlier this month.

Drill samples from the Brook Mine had also revealed indications of gallium and germanium in significant quantities. Both raw materials are currently in the focus of the semiconductor industry, as China had announced export controls for them, which came into force at the beginning of August.

Photo: iStock/Hello my names is james,I’m photographer.

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