Extracting REEs from Pennsylvania coal
Texas Mineral receives US energy grant to develop pilot plant Metal Tech News – September 23, 2020
Last updated 9/29/2020 at 6:50pm
Best known for its contribution to advancing the Round Top rare earths and critical minerals mine project, Texas Mineral Resources Corp. is now leading a group targeting the development of a plant capable of recovering rare earths from Pennsylvania coal byproducts.
The Texas-based mineral explorer is teaming up with Penn State University; Jeddo Coal Company, a family-run mining company with a Pennsylvania operation; and H22OS Consulting, an engineering and construction firm that specializes in mining.
Department of Energy's National Energy Technical Laboratory selected this Texas Mineral-led consortium to receive up to a $1 million grant to develop a pilot-scale plant to validate the feasibility of producing rare earths from coal-based resources.
These rare earths, which include 15 lanthanide elements on the periodic table plus yttrium and scandium, are used in a wide array of modern technologies, including renewable energy, electric vehicles, computers, and smartphones.
Penn State has been leading research into cost-effective and environmentally friendly technologies to extract this group of technology metals from clay layers associated with coal, coal waste products, and acid mine drainage.
"Extracting rare earth elements and other critical minerals from coal sequences and coal waste has the potential to bolster the state's economy and provide new employment in mining regions," said Lee Kump, dean at Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.
Previous studies by Penn State scientists, working alongside DOE researchers, resulted in the development of an advanced ion exchange method known as to extract rare earths from coal byproducts.
This advanced extraction method, which uses continuous ion exchange and continuous ion chromatography (CIX-CIC), is the same technology being developed to extract rare earths and other critical minerals from concentrates from a future mine at the Round Top project in Texas.
Texas Mineral's Round Top funding partner, USA Rare Earth LLC, recently built a pilot plant in Colorado to test CIX-CIC rare earth separation methodology.
With the grant from DOE, the academia and industrial team led by Texas Mineral will design and build a plant capable of producing one to three metric tons of rare earth oxides per day from anthracite coal at Jeddo's mine in Pennsylvania.
Successful completion of the DOE grant is consistent with a commercial supply chain in which final separation of the mixed REE concentrate into individual high purity rare earth oxides would be accomplished at USA Rare Earth's CIX-CIC processing facility in Colorado.
"We believe that the technological strength and experience of our team goes a long way toward a positive result from this project," said Texas Mineral Resources Chairman Anthony Marchese. "This grant is a significant step forward toward creating the first of these operations in the Pennsylvania region."
Slated to get underway on Oct. 1, it is expected to take about three months to develop a conceptual design ahead of pilot plant construction.
"The potential to profitably produce scandium and other rare earth minerals from Pennsylvania anthracite coal byproducts hold great promise," said Marchese.
The Texas Mineral chairman said this project has the potential to provide economic opportunities in coal producing regions.
"Creating value from byproducts is an environmental goal shared by all citizens, especially when considering the strategic nature of the minerals at hand," he said. "We are fully committed to work with local companies, capital sources, and public officials in order to create potentially meaningful economic opportunity for an industry and region, which for too long has been in a period of decline."