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Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Minerals (CORE-CM) Assessment of San Juan River-Raton Coal Basin, New Mexico
Project Number
Last Reviewed Dated

The objective of this project is to determine the rare earth elements (REE) and critical minerals (CM) resource potential in coal and related stratigraphic units in the San Juan and Raton basins, New Mexico. This project will delineate favorable geologic terranes and priority areas containing potential REE and CM deposits for the DOE mandate, which is also a priority of the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR) and state of NM.


New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801


Carbon Ore, Rare Earth Element, and Critical Mineral (CORE-CM) projects focus on six objectives: (1) basinal assessment of CORE-CM Resources, (2) basinal stategies for reuse of waste streams, (3) basinal strategies for infrastructure, industries, and businesses, (4) technology assessment, development, and field testing, (5) technology innovation centers, and (6) stakeholder outreach and education.

The San Juan and Raton basins are predominant Laramide structural basins in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado that host important energy and mineral resources that have produced significant amounts of coal, uranium, petroleum, and gas. Cretaceous coal units in the San Juan and Raton basins and associated stratigraphic units have the potential for many critical minerals, especially REE. Coal deposits from throughout the world are known to contain high concentrations of CM and REE, but a basin-wide geochemical and mineralogical and geochemical characterization study of New Mexico coals is needed to determine the potential for CM and REE in coals in the San Juan and Raton basins.


Not only are proposed data collection required in order to delineate favorable geologic terranes and priority areas containing potential CM and REE deposits for the DOE and USGS mandates, but identification and examination of CM and REE is a high priority of the NMBGMR. This project is important to the state of New Mexico because CM and REE resources must be identified before land exchanges, withdrawals, or other land-use decisions are made by government officials. Potential cleanup of hazardous contaminated abandoned mine lands (AML) sites could be funded by the production of CM and REE from coal and other mine wastes, including AML sites. Future mining of potential economic CM and REE deposits will directly benefit the economy of New Mexico. Furthermore, it is crucial to re-establish a domestic CM and REE production industry in the U.S. to help secure the nation’s clean energy future, reduce the vulnerability of the U.S. to material shortages related to national defense, and to maintain our global technical and economic competitiveness. Potential CM and REE deposits in New Mexico, especially coal, could contribute to the resource base in the U.S. Most CM and REE are imported into the U.S. and have specific, critical uses in our economy. Disruptions of imports may occur because of natural disasters, labor strife, trade disputes, resource nationalism, armed conflict, and so on, which requires knowledge of CM and REE deposits in the U.S. that could provide the required raw materials. Another aspect of this project is the training of the future workforce because students at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and San Juan College will be hired to work on this project. Many of the PIs have a strong history of mentoring minority students, thereby contributing to diversity in the geoscience workforce

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • The team has completed the drilling log SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and is working on other relevant SOPs.
  • The team logged 1160 ft of core. Some of the drill holes have had all of the coal removed, whereas other holes contain only cuttings and no core.
Current Status

Currently the team is developing the core database. Legacy chemistry data have been collected and a report evaluating that data is in progress. Samples have been collected and will be submitted for geochemistry Working on a short summary of the project for Lite Geology.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL – Eric Smistad ( or 281-494-2619)
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology - Navid Mojtabai ( or 575-835-5836)