Rare earths to be extracted at former Illinois coal mine

Coal. (Image by CSIRO, Wikimedia Commons).

Toronto-based Avalon Advanced Materials (TSX: AVL) signed a binding Letter of Intent with Coal Strategy Advisors (CSA) to earn up to a 50% interest in the Will Scarlett rare earths recovery project, located near Marion, Illinois. 

Will Scarlett is a closed coal mine site where, according to Avalon, recent geochemical sampling has found elevated levels of rare earth elements and other metallic elements such as cobalt, nickel, lithium, manganese and zinc in mine waste materials.

Unlike most hardrock rare earth resources, no significant uranium or thorium has been detected associated with the rare earths at Will Scarlett

In a press release, the Canadian miner said that the rare earths are found at Will Scarlett in the acid mine drainage and in the precipitates generated from lime treatment of the AMD to neutralize the acidity. 

Avalon reports that sampling of the precipitates and acid mine drainage has revealed high concentrations of total rare earth oxides in excess of 500 ppm. 

“Avalon and CSA plan to proceed immediately with analytical and process test work to confirm concentration levels and the most efficient extraction process to recover the rare earths from the AMD and precipitates,” the company said. “Initial analytical test work is already in progress. Avalon and CSA will enter a formal joint venture agreement once the full scope of work required to advance the project to initial production is determined.”