Characterization and Extraction of Rare Earth Elements from East Kootenay Coalfields – REE BC Coal Project

The Need

The rare earth elements are a group of 17 similar metals often found and mined together. They play a critical role in everyday electronic components such as batteries and magnets, renewable energy generation and in defense-related technologies. Traditional rare earth deposits are becoming depleted and are projected to only meet the demand for the next 15 to 20 years.

Coal deposits have been identified as a potential new source of REEs and work is underway in the US and elsewhere to separate and concentrate REEs during coal processing.

Even though the scientific literature indicates the presence of REEs in some Canadian coal deposits, especially in BC coalfields, there has been little effort to properly quantify and characterize these coal deposits as a source for REEs. The purpose of this research is to characterize and quantify the REEs and their mode of occurrence in different processing products of coal and from the East Kootenay coal deposits, as well as to study the possible extraction of REEs.

Project Goals

The main objectives of the project are:

    • Phase 1: REE Database Development
      • To compile a database of REE concentration in the East Kootenay coalfield by analyzing the field samples.
    • Phase 2: Advanced Characterization & Processing Options
      • To conduct lab-scale testing for assessment of REE enrichment, and
        Perform an extraction test on promising samples.

Project Benefits

The new geoscience information generated by this project may help establish a ‘home-grown’ source of REEs which are critical to renewable energy development and will help the BC metallurgical coal industry, researchers and government agencies make decisions about developing sources of REEs within BC.

Survey Area

The project will collect samples of coal from coalfields in the East Kootenays.