Ramaco Resources (METC) stock surged 36.67% Thursday to $15.99 on a published report the coal mine might contain $37 billion worth of rare-earth minerals.
The Sheridan, Wyo., mine could be the first new discovery of rare-earth elements in the U.S. since 1952 — and the largest depository in the country, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Energy Department, augmenting its data with artificial intelligence, found numerous important minerals — neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, terbium, gallium and germanium — on owner Randall Atkins’ 16,000 acres.
Until the discovery, Ramaco had concentrated on metallurgical coal for steelmaking, and Atkins wasn’t even knowledgeable about the minerals used for electric vehicles and green energy.
The finding is significant, as the U.S. is seeking to procure rare-earth supplies outside of China for critical parts in its clean energy gamble on EVs and offshore wind turbines.
To put the size of the discovery in perspective, the U.S. has consumed 8,300 metric tons of rare-earth oxides annually in recent years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Ramaco and a third-party consultant it has hired estimate it is sitting on 1.1 million metric tons — on just one-quarter of the property.
China holds all, if not many, of the cards in the EV and alternative energy race because of its vast supply of rare minerals.
Recently, in retaliation for U.S. limits on AI semiconductor chip exports, China restricted exports of gallium and germanium, two key minerals for semiconductors, missiles and solar cells.
Extrapolating the significance of the Ramaco find further, the government hopes that the Energy Department’s new AI-enabled model will enable it find other rare-earth mineral stashes in the United States. Doing so will permit the U.S. to own and refine the precious minerals domestically.
Not everyone is so optimistic. Lucas Pipes, an analyst with B. Riley Securities, says there are too many variables — including excavation and processing costs — to factor in before celebrating the find.
For now, Pipes still considers Ramaco a coal company.
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