Rare Earth Element Research

History of Rare Earth Element Research

The Rare Earth Element (REE) research program was created to stimulate research and development in the area of rare earth element production and processing in Wyoming.  The objectives of the program are intended to focus on technologies that better identify and quantify sources of rare earth elements and optimize the economic benefit of the resource to Wyoming.

Research Project Awards

In the 2015 general session, the Legislature of the State of Wyoming redirected $324,517.90 of Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funds from two previously funded research efforts to the University of Wyoming for REE research.  The REE research funds revert on June 30, 2016.  To deploy the funds, the School of Energy Resources issued a competitive request for proposals (RFP).  The RFP solicited proposals for applied research in one or more of the following research focus areas:

  • Characterization, quantification and production of rare earth element supplies from "unconventional" sources in sustainable quantities.  Such sources might include geothermal and produced waters and waste product streams such as coal fly ash.
  • Identification of novel processes to refine, concentrate, convert, and purify "conventional," or mined, rare earth deposits known to exist in sustainable quantities in Wyoming.
  • Use and application of rare earth element resources mined and processed in industrial applications and functional products that could seed new industry and manufacturing in Wyoming.

The following projects were funded through the 2015 RFP:

  • "Unconventional Rare Earth Elements in Wyoming from Coal Fly Ash and Oil and Gas Production Water: A Technical and Economic Feasibility Study" - Fred McLaughlin, University of Wyoming Carbon Management Institute
  • "Rare Earth Element Recovery from Roll-Front Uranium Deposits in Wyoming: An Unconventional Source of Rare Earth Elements" - Susan Swapp, University of Wyoming Department of Geology and Geophysics


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