A former Wall Street banker paid $2 million for an old coal mine in rural Wyoming.

Turns out it was an underground lottery ticket.

Atkins' company, Ramaco Resources discovered there was more than just coal to be mined from Atkins' land.

There might be up to $37 billion in “rare-earth elements” at the site.

The owner of the mine is Randall Atkins. He's the son of infamous oil tycoon Orin Atkins.

12 years ago Randall bought the sleepy Brook Mine outside of Sheridan, Wyoming sight unseen.

That's quite a gamble.

Tests show that the 15,800-acre lot might be the largest unconventional rare-earth deposit in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

When Atkins’ company Ramaco Resources first purchased the mine, the 71-year-old “didn’t know the difference between rare earths and rare coins,” (WSJ).

That doesn't mean he's a billionaire just yet.

“Like any project of this magnitude it will take some time to assess the project’s full potential,” Atkins, a former banker for JPMorgan, told The Post.

“Given that rare earth deposits are measured in parts per million, it will also take careful analysis of the right extraction, separation and processing techniques before we are sure of the right direction.”


If results come back as predicted then this could be the first rare-earths mine discovered in the US since 1952, according to The Journal.

"Rare earths are used in a wide array of applications, including specialty glass products, steelmaking, batteries," Patty Webber with the Wyoming State Geological Survey told Wyoming Public Radio. They're also used in lasers and other Defense Department weapons.

Neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium are just a few of the REEs found in Atkins' Brook Mine, according to a company press release.

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