The US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technical Laboratory announced that it has selected a Texas Mineral Resources-led consortium to receive an award of up to $1 million targeting the production of rare earths in Pennsylvania.
Besides Texas Mineral Resources (OTCQB: TMRC), the project includes Penn State, Jeddo Coal Company and H22OS. The consortium’s objective is to install a self-contained, modular and portable pilot plant at a Jeddo Coal site in Pennsylvania capable of producing 1-3 tonnes of rare earth oxides derived from coal byproducts from anthracite coal.
The project will start on October 1, 2020, with a three-month conceptual design phase and the ultimate objective of completing a feasibility study.
“This grant is a significant step forward toward creating the first of these operations in the Pennsylvania region. The potential to profitably produce scandium and other rare earth minerals from Pennsylvania anthracite coal byproducts holds great promise,” Anthony Marchese, chairman of TMRC, said in a media statement.
“Creating value from byproducts is an environmental goal shared by all citizens, especially when considering the strategic nature of the minerals at hand.”
According to Marchese, this is the third U.S. government award relating to the production of rare earth minerals in which his company has participated.
Back in 2016, TMRC announced it had successfully completed a demonstration-of-concept project funded by the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency’s Strategic Materials Division to separate and refine specific high-purity rare earth elements using continuous ion exchange and continuous ion chromatography processing method.
Later on, in 2019, a consortium including Texas Mineral Resources consortium successfully completed a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy grant to produce multiple separated rare earth minerals from Pennsylvania coal mining waste material.
The Sierra Blanca-based company is also using the method employed in both U.S. government-grant initiatives to process rare earths and additional critical minerals from the Round Top project in Texas, which is being developed by TMRC’s funding and its partner USA Rare Earth, LLC.
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 processing facility using CIX/CIC processing methodology.