Production of Salable Rare Earth Products from Coal and Coal Byproducts in the U.S. Using Advanced Separation Processes

Technology Partner: Marshall Miller & Associates, Inc.Award Number: FE0029956
Project Duration: 9/1/2017 – 2/28/2019
Total Project Value: $1,250,000

Key Technology Area: Process Systems
Project Partners: Cumberland Mine Services, Minerals Refining Company, Outotec USA, University of Kentucky,

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This Phase 1 project will identify and characterize coal- related materials and design and perform a techno- economic analysis for a commercially viable technology to produce salable quantities and purities of rare earth elements (REEs) from coal-based feedstocks. The facility, which will be physically located at an active coal mine in West Virginia, will utilize interchangeable modules that can be easily reconfigured to accommodate changing feedstocks and technology upgrades. The process includes both physical and chemical extraction processes and is expected to produce at least 10 pounds per day of rare earth oxides at purities of 90-99 percent. As part of the feasibility analysis, laboratory testing will be performed, including crushing/grinding, magnetic concentration, flotation release analysis, selective agglomeration, leachability/ion exchangeability, solvent extraction, mechanical dewatering, and solids thickening. Data obtained from the laboratory testing will be used to

design a pilot facility and optimize REE recovery and process costs. Overall, this feasibility study will provide critical insight on the economic parameters and commercial viability of the integrated process system. In addition to the REE products, the facility will also co- produce a salable ultraclean coal by-product that can help to offset the cost of the facility and enhance long- term economic viability. If successful, this Phase 1 project may continue into the next stage of development which includes installation, field-testing, and evaluation of the REE recovery technology. Successful completion of this project is expected to provide a first-generation production facility for recovering rare earth products from coal and coal by- product streams in a manner that is cost-effective and environmentally acceptable. This outcome will provide a secure domestic feedstock supply of REEs, and will maintain or create additional jobs in coal communities.


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