In 2015, researchers with the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) collected 135 samples from Jeddo Coal Co. properties, principally from drill core. The average technology metals content of these samples was 407 ppm total rare earth and 102 ppm scandium. Other work being carried out at Penn State University indicated that these metals could be effectively recovered by leaching the whole rock with ammonium sulfate. Assuming the applicability of these leaching techniques, and the favorable prices for scandium, TMRC executed an MOU with Pagnotti Enterprises Inc. to jointly develop these technology metals associated with the coal beds. In September, the Office of Fossil Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy issued a $23.75 million Financial Assistance Funding Opportunity Announcement titled, “Production of Salable Rare Earth Elements from Domestic U.S. Coal and Coal Byproducts.” TMRC, its processing partners Inventure Renewables/K Technologies and Penn State University have jointly submitted an application for this grant.
Preliminary internal analysis done by TMRC, assuming a processing rate at a modest 250 tons per day of sand and siltstones associated with the coal containing an estimated 100 ppm (parts per million) scandium content, would result in an operation with an estimated capex of approximately $24 million, inclusive of a 25% contingency. Potential estimated production of scandium oxide would be approximately 13,000 kg annually. At a 250-metric-tons-per-day (mtpd) production rate and using a current scandium market price of $2,000/kg such an operation would potentially result in an annual pre-tax cash flow of approximately $17 million, after royalty payments to the coal company. This analysis assumes that only the scandium recovered would be sold, attributing no value to other elements and minerals that could be recovered.
“We believe joining forces with a well-established Pennsylvania coal company such as Jeddo in the recovery of scandium and other valuable rare earth minerals is a perfect complement to our Round Top heavy rare earth project in Texas,” said Chairman Anthony Marchese. “The potential benefits of such a project will be felt in the surrounding coal community in Pennsylvania as well as by TMRC shareholders. Along with the Department of Energy, we strongly believe there is enormous potential to recover rare earth minerals from coal deposits in the northeastern United States.”