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Ramaco Resources, Inc. (NASDAQ: METC, METCB, “Ramaco” or the “Company”), is a leading producer of high-quality, low-cost metallurgical coal in Appalachia. In May, Ramaco announced that its Brook Mine property in Sheridan, Wyoming contains perhaps the largest unconventional deposit of rare earth elements (“REE”) discovered in the United States, in association with researchers from the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (“NETL”) and analysts at mining consultancy Weir International (“Weir”). In particular, the Brook Mine is rich in magnetic REEs, which are used in applications that include advanced military technology, electric vehicles, and more.

Today the Company announced that Weir has determined based upon chemical analysis from additional drilling the level of unconventional REE deposits has increased by almost 50% compared to its initial target disclosed in May. Furthermore, the Company announced that its Board of Directors has approved the commencement of initial mine development to begin this Fall. This would make the Brook Mine the first new rare earth mine in the United States since the Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine in California in 1952, currently the United States’ only operating mine for these critical elements and minerals.

Finally, the Company announced that working with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (“Oak Ridge” or “ORNL”), it has jointly developed and patented technologies to commercialize two potentially disruptive high-value carbon products using use coal as their primary feedstock. These technologies were developed as part of a multi-year research partnership, and are subject to issued and pending patents. One involves the use of coal (also called “carbon ore”) to develop a form of activated carbon fiber as a solid adsorbent to be used in large scale direct air capture of CO2, methane or other noxious gases. The second involves the use of coal to make a form of low-cost synthetic graphite, a major component in electric vehicle batteries and other energy-storage products.

Ramaco’s Board of Directors late last month approved commencing rare earth and coal mining development at its Brook Mine in the fourth quarter of 2023. This will be the first new rare earth mine in the United States since the Mountain Pass Rare Earth Mine in California, and will target mining unconventional REE deposits found in coal and adjacent clays and carbonaceous material. Ramaco anticipates spending roughly $2.5 million over two quarters for initial development for both rare earth and carbon ore/coal mining.

Based on additional coring and chemical analysis, Weir International has also determined that the size of the Company’s REE Exploration Target has increased almost 50% to 0.9 – 1.2 million tons of total rare earth oxides (“TREOs”) from its initial Target in May of 0.6 – 0.8 million tons. As perspective, the United States has an average domestic consumption of roughly 10,000 tons per year of REEs over the last ten years.

The deposit is estimated to contain approximately 29% of primary magnetic rare earth oxides (“REOs”) Neodymium, Praseodymium, Dysprosium, and Terbium as well as secondary magnetic REOs. As previously reported, this current assessment has only been conducted on one third of the area of the Brook Mine.

A month ago, China announced new export controls on gallium and germanium, two critical minerals with wide use in semiconductors, communications and defense. Early cores at the Brook Mine suggest that in addition to large percentages of magnetic REOs, the Brook deposit also contains meaningful amounts of each of these banned metals. Further drilling and chemical assessments are ongoing to more precisely determine the size of deposits of these two minerals.

In conjunction with the development, the Company has recently retained a wide group of leading rare earth mining, metallurgy, mineralogy and economic experts, including leading rare earth mining consultancy SRK Consulting. These firms will work both with the Company and alongside NETL researchers to prepare mineral and metallurgical assessments, as well as initial economic assessment and pre-feasibility studies. This analysis will also inform the appropriate forms and techniques of processing, separation and recovery of the rare earths and carbon ore. Ramaco expects to also work with other Department of Energy national laboratories, including NETL in assessing the deposit and its potential vertical development to magnet production.

“As with all our development projects, we will take a thorough and disciplined approach to assessing the feasibility of the Brook Mine. We are however, very encouraged by the Board’s decision to greenlight the initial mine development of the country’s first carbon ore and rare earth mine,” said Randall Atkins, Chairman and CEO of Ramaco. “Based on our recent findings, we are more optimistic today than in May when we first announced this unconventional rare earth deposit. We have now increased the exploration target by 50% relative to our initial findings, enlisted a group of world class third-party experts to assist in our overall evaluation and will soon actually start mining for rare earths. We will continue to pursue our measured approach, as we embark on this potentially transformational opportunity.”