Processing Plant in Upton, WY

source: RER

RER received $21.9 million from the US Department of Energy in 2021 to construct a demonstration rare earths processing plant called a Hydrometallurgical (Hydromet) Plant at the Upton Logistics Center Industrial Park in Upton, WY. In December 2021, RER announced that with around $25 million generated in a share offering, the company has now raised enough funds to move forward with permitting, licensing, engineering, construction, and operation of the demonstration plant would be located about 50 miles from the mine.

At the proposed demonstration plant, RER would produce up to 3 tons/day of commercial-grade neodymium/praseodymium (Nd/Pr), with plans to scale up to a commercial-level operation after the demonstration stage. In the demonstration stage, RER would use a bulk ore sample of 1000 tons which was extracted during exploration drilling in 2014. The sample currently sits on private land within the proposed Bear Lodge mining site. This sample contains thorium, uranium, and their radioactive daughter products.

RER is working with General Atomics, Synchron, Umwelt-und Ingenieurtechnik GmbH Dresden (UIT), and LNV, an Adurra Group, Inc. engineering and construction subcontractor, on this project. Since February 2019, UIT has operated a pilot plant in Germany, using sample ore from Bear Lodge to test the hydrometallurgical process planned for Upton.

RER is proposing to treat the crushed radioactive ore, transported from Bear Lodge, with hydrochloric, nitric, and oxalic acids. The company would use 300 tons of hydrochloric acid, 2 tons of sulfuric acid, 600 tons of nitric acid, 150 tons of ammonia, and 1,200,000 gallons of fresh water during the one-year operation of the plant. Waste from the demonstration plant would include solid radioactive waste, which would require off-site disposal, and various liquid wastes resulting from the filtration stages of processing, as well as industrial waste and carbon emissions generated from the processing equipment.

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