Wyoming discovery could be America’s first new source of rare-earth elements since 1952
Twelve years ago, former Wall Street banker Randall Atkins bought an old coal mine outside Sheridan, Wyo., sight unseen, for about $2 million. He thought the mine might eke out a profit. Instead, Atkins recently learned it could bring a windfall.
Several years after Atkins bought the Brook Mine, government researchers came around asking if they could run some tests to see if the ground contained something called “rare-earth elements.” When Atkins acquired the mine, he says he “didn’t know the difference between rare earths and rare coins.”
When he got the test results, including some as recently as September, he says he was surprised and humbled: His sleepy mine contains what might be the largest so-called unconventional rare-earth deposit in the U.S., according to government researchers.
At current market prices, it could be worth around $37 billion. Atkins’s company, Ramaco Resources, recently started extracting larger samples for more analysis. If the project proceeds as intended, it would be the first new rare-earths mine in the U.S. since 1952.