Boston Strategies International has won a contract to expand and transform the use of coal and coal-based resources to produce coal-based products, using carbon ore, rare earth elements (REE) and critical minerals (CM) under an initiative led by the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources (SER) Center for Economic Geology Research (CEGR) , which will receive nearly $3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The projects address the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Wyoming and Montana and the Greater Green River and Wind River basins (GGRB-WRB) of Wyoming and Colorado. The selected UW projects are among 13 nationwide announced totaling $19 million. Some of the other regions selected for study include the Appalachian Basin, the San Juan River-Raton-Black Mesa Basin, the Illinois Basin, the Williston Basin, the Uinta River Basin, the Gulf Coast Basin, and in Alaska and Kansas.
The production of REE and CM is vital for use in electronics, magnets, batteries, phosphors for lighting, as well as applications in national security and clean energy production — including the manufacturing of wind turbines. The U.S. has been heavily reliant on imports of REEs from China, which has dominated the global market. As the demand for REEs has been on the rise, the U.S. has engaged in finding alternative domestic sources. The feasibility of recovering REEs from coal-based resources has been expanded through efforts led by the DOE and the National Energy Technology Laboratory. The state of Wyoming, and particularly the PRB and GGRB-WRB, are well positioned to support carbon ore, REE and CM research.
Phase 1 of both projects will run for two years when the teams assemble an assessment of CORE-CM resources; evaluate existing field data; prepare initial plans for economic development activities; as well as develop outreach and education plans. If successful in these preliminary activities, the projects will be able to apply for additional funding in Phases 2 and 3.
For the complete DOE media release about CORE-CM awards, go to www.energy.gov/articles/doe-awards-19-million-initiatives-produce-rare-earth-elements-and-critical-minerals.