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Rare Earth Recovery

The Rare Earth Extraction Facility was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to bolster domestic supplies of rare earths, reduce the environmental impact of coal-mining operations, reduce production costs and increase efficiency for processing market-ready rare earths. Additionally, the technology could create jobs, helping to revive economies that have been historically dependent on the coal industry. Researchers at the West Virginia Water Research Institute are now extracting rare earth elements from acid mine drainage at their pilot plant located in the NRCCE building at West Virginia University in Morgantown. 


The pilot plant is testing the commercial feasibility of turning a regional liability into a valuable national resource.  Rare earth elements are found in all electronics and right now 80 percent of REEs come from China.  Developing a domestic sources from acid mine drainage will help the U.S. economy and our environment.


Potential Impacts

  • Erect plants on existing, acid mine drainage treatment sites
  • Employ existing workforce and infrastructure
  • Generate new revenue for coal and coal-based industries
  • Create financial incentives to treat abandoned mine sources of acid mine drainage
  • Diversify Appalachia’s economy
  • Restore watersheds
  • Produce enough rare earth elements needed for national security

Contact Paul Ziemkiewicz to learn more.

304.293.6958

Paul.Ziemkiewicz@mail.wvu.edu