Energy Fuels Inc, in partnership with a team from Penn State, is to start work on a project evaluating and developing a conceptual design to allow for the commercial production of mixed rare earth oxides (REO) from coal-based resources in an environmentally-benign fashion.
The company said it has been advised by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) of their intent to award a contract to Energy Fuels, working with the team from Penn State, on this project. Furthermore, the DOE has the option to award Energy Fuels a contract for the completion of a feasibility study on this initiative, Energy Fuels said.
The DOE has already demonstrated the technical feasibility of extracting rare earth elements (REE) from coal and coal-based resources, including coal refuse, over/under burden materials, power generation ash and the like, but it now wishes to accelerate the advancement of commercially viable technologies to produce REE from these coal-based resource, Energy Fuels says.
Energy Fuels applied for this grant in June 2020, as REEs contained in these coal-based resources are similar to the REEs contained in other materials the company is currently evaluating in its REE program.
The first phase of DOE funding will allow Energy Fuels and the team from Penn State to complete a detailed conceptual design and flowsheet for the potential commercial operation of a facility that produces REOs from coal-based resources, Energy Fuels said. Following this phase, the DOE will conduct a merit evaluation and determine whether to award the funding for the development of a feasibility study.
Mark S Chalmers, President and CEO of Energy Fuels, said: “We are excited to have the opportunity to work with the DOE office of FE, the NETL, and Penn State on this important rare earth initiative. Energy Fuels has been carrying out substantial work over the past year to explore the potential for implementing a commercial rare earth recovery and processing program at our White Mesa Mill (pictured).
“This initiative to produce REOs from coal-based resources is complementary to our ongoing efforts and will potentially broaden the sources of REE feedstock available to us in the future. We also hope this project opens the door for us to work with the DOE and other agencies on future rare earth initiatives.”