Ramaco CEO says Wyoming coal mine discoveries include gallium, germanium

Brook mine property in Wyoming. Image from Ramaco Resources.

Ramaco Resources Inc. said it found two more rare minerals in a Wyoming coal mine, adding to its discovery of what the company has called one of the largest deposits of rare earth elements in the US.

The mine that the metallurgical coal producer is surveying for rare earth elements used in magnets also contains gallium and germanium, two minerals that China recently put export controls on, chief executive officer Randall Atkins said Wednesday in a Bloomberg Television interview. He said the discovery of these materials could value the mine at as much as $37 billion.

“We have a lot of the heavier magnetic elements as well as secondary elements as well as two of the critical materials that have recently been banned by China, which is gallium and germanium,” Atkins said. “It does contain a rather valuable basket of elements.”

China announced restrictions on gallium and germanium in July as part of a tit-for-tat trade war on technology with the US and Europe. The Pentagon issued a first-time contract to US or Canadian companies by year-end to recover gallium, a mineral used in semiconductors and military radar systems. Atkins said in a Bloomberg News interview that the Kentucky-based company has been in contact with the US Defense Department about its discovery.

Atkins has told investors he won’t put a time frame on when he expects the company to begin producing or processing the rare earth elements. He said in Wednesday’s TV interview that Ramaco will take 12 to 24 months to analyze how it will even extract the minerals.

(By Joe Deaux, David Westin and Romaine Bostick)


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