American scientists have developed and received a patent for a new technology. It is aimed at extracting rare earth metals from coal. To date, Virgin technological University is implementing a technology project. Its cost is about 1 million USD. Partially the project is financed by the national energy technology laboratory. In development with participation of University staff, postgraduates and students. Also involved in the project the representatives of the five partner companies. The importance of the project is not in doubt. Its main objective — development of the process of obtaining rare earth metals «heavy-duty» and the subsequent commercialization. Today the obvious source of clay, which were discovered in the Jiangxi province of China. Their reserves are however limited, they will last at most for 20 years. While recent studies claim that some deposits of coal contain high levels of REE.
In China a large part of the rare earth metals are produced as byproducts. Rare earth raw materials at a certain point it became unprofitable. This was the reason for the closure of production facilities, mining of rare earth ore. American industry is largely dependent on foreign supplies. Thus, a new technology that allows to extract from the coal REE, has considerable value. In the American coal fields contains 10.9 million tons of reserves of rare earth metals. Sources of raw materials located in 4 Eastern and 5 Western States. In the case of the success of the Virgin of the project, scientists will have to think about further investment. The construction and testing of a mobile plant will require investments of $ 6 million USD. The test will be carried out in various areas of the Appalachian basin.
High concentration of rare earth metal was discovered not only in America. Another promising source is Russia. Considered deposits in the Amur and Jewish regions, Khabarovsk territory. This should take into account the profitability of the technology. The cost of the new process must be lower than the current obtaining rare earth metals from a traditional source. Meanwhile, in recent years Russia reduces the production of rare earth metals. Compared with the results that took place in the former Soviet Union, production has fallen by 20−30%. In the global production of rare earth metals, Russia’s share is not more than 5%. The imported volumes of REE exceed 90%.