$17.5 Million Towards Critical Mineral Supply Chain

by Carolyn Mathas

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $17.5 million for four projects to lower the costs and environmental impact of onshore production of rare earths and other minerals from coal, coal waste, and coal byproducts. The funds are from the administration’s  Investing in America agenda.

The U.S. imports more than 80% of its rare earth elements. However, we can harvest these rare earth minerals from our domestic coal, coal wastes, and coal byproducts, which comprise more than 250 billion tons of coal reserves, over 4 billion tons of waste coal, and about 2 billion tons of coal ash.

The DOE wants to use these byproduct resources to build a domestic supply chain that will be critical to the economy, clean energy, and national security.

The DOE chose four projects that will use secondary and unconventional coal-based resources to produce rare earths, critical minerals, and materials.

University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, Kentucky) – The project will conduct pilot-scale testing to obtain aqueous solutions rich in mixed rare earth elements and critical minerals and materials. They will process these solutions to obtain high-grade rare earth oxides of individual rare earth elements and high-purity chemical compounds of lithium, manganese, cobalt, and nickel.

West Virginia University Research Corporation (Morgantown, West Virginia) – The project will use material from an acid mine drainage treatment plant to produce individually separated high-purity rare earth elements and critical mineral oxides. They will then process the rare earth oxides into rare earth metals.

Pennsylvania State University (University Park, Pennsylvania) – This project will recover a concentrated mix of rare earth oxides and critical minerals and materials from an acid mine drainage treatment plant. It will produce high-grade compounds, including lithium carbonate, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and titanium.

Microbeam Technologies Incorporated (Grand Forks, North Dakota)—The project plans to use a bench-scale system to demonstrate the ability to extract and produce high-purity gallium and germanium from a lignite-derived, mixed rare earth element concentrate obtained from selected gallium and germanium-rich lignite carbon ore.

Processing acid mine drainage fluids can recover rare earths and critical minerals and return environmentally impacted areas to healthy, thriving ecosystems for humans, vegetation, and aquatic life. The DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the projects under the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM).

In addition, FECM has committed approximately $133 million since January 2021 for projects supporting critical minerals and materials exploration, resource identification, production, and processing traditional mining and fossil fuel-producing communities across the country. FECM minimizes the environmental and climate impacts of fossil fuels and industrial processes while working to achieve net-zero emissions across the U.S. economy.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy