US-based coal producer Ramaco Resources is set to begin mining operations at its Brook Mine property in Sheridan, Wyoming, in the last quarter of this year, after securing approval from the board of directors.

In May 2023, Ramaco stated that the mine contains one of the largest rare earth element (REE) deposits in the US.

The discovery was made in association with researchers from the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and analysts at mining consultancy Weir International.

Recently, Weir is claimed to have updated the REE deposits by almost 50%, at the mine after conducting chemical analysis.

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Ramaco claims that with the update, the Brook mine is the first new rare earth mine in the US after the Mountain Pass rare earth mine in California.

The company has also been working with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), with which it has developed two new technologies that use coal as the main ingredient.

The first involves the use of coal to directly capture CO₂, methane and other gases from the atmosphere. The second technology involves the use of coal to make low-cost synthetic graphite which can be used in electric vehicle batteries and other energy storage products.

Brook will mainly target unconventional REE deposits found in coal and adjacent clays and carbonaceous materials.

The company estimates that it will need to spend nearly $2.5m over the next six months for the initial development of both rare earth and carbon ore/coal mining.

Ramaco chairman and CEO Randall Atkins said: “As with all our development projects, we will take a thorough and disciplined approach to assess the feasibility of the Brook Mine. We are, however, very encouraged by the board’s decision to greenlight the initial mine development of the country’s first carbon ore and rare earth mine.

“Based on our recent findings, we are more optimistic today than in May when we first announced this unconventional rare earth deposit. We have now increased the exploration target by 50% relative to our initial findings, enlisted a group of world-class third-party experts to assist in our overall evaluation and will soon actually start mining for rare earths. We will continue to pursue our measured approach, as we embark on this potentially transformational opportunity.”