An Unlikely Surprise
Twelve years ago, a former Wall Street banker bought an old Wyoming coal mine for roughly $2 million. But it might be worth many multiples of that.
Government researchers discovered rare-earth elements in Randall Atkins’s mine. More testing is underway, but the excitement extends beyond the mine’s owner.
Presently, the U.S. relies on China when it comes to rare-earth minerals, which are key to technological advances needed for the green energy transition.
Government researchers have determined Atkins’ site might contain the largest deposit of rare-earth elements in the U.S. The elements include neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, and terbium.
More analysis is needed to determine the most economical strategy for extraction. But estimates currently value the discovery at as much as $37 billion.
This discovery is a big deal. China is the world leader in rare-earth refining, and it recently limited exports of gallium and germanium to the U.S. — two elements commonly used in semiconductors, missiles, and solar cells. Those two minerals were found in samples at Atkins’s Wyoming site.
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