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Mid-APPalachian Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Minerals (MAPP-CORE) Initiative
Project Number
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The overall goal of the project is to identify key barriers and opportunities in connecting Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Minerals (CORE-CM) materials and resources to end users and manufacturers, including technical, workforce, and economic considerations within the mid-Appalachian basin.


West Virginia University (WVU) Research Corporation, Morgantown, WV
University of Kentucky (UK), Lexington, KY
West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey (WVGES), Morgantown, WV
Virginia Tech (VT), Blacksburg, VA
DRB Geological Consulting (DRB), New Brighton, PA
Pennsylvania Geological Survey (PAGS), Pittsburgh, PA
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN
Synterra Corporation, Lexington, KY
TechConnect West Virginia (TCWV), Morgantown, WV


The Mid-APPalachian Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Minerals (MAPP-CORE) Initiative is focused on the expansion and transformation of the use of coal and coal-based resources, including waste streams, to produce products of high value to the 21st Century energy and manufacturing ecosystem. These products would include Rare Earth Elements (REE) and Critical Minerals (CM), as well as high-value nonfuel Carbon Materials and Carbon-Based Products (CBP). The economic potential and need are obvious in central Appalachia, providing opportunities for economic diversification, workforce development, advanced technological development, and business creation. The team has established cooperative and collaborative relationships with a robust and diverse group of industrial partners representing the full supply chain from land-owners to mine operators to process technology companies to market analysts to downstream consumers. The project will accomplish these goals by performing the following tasks: A basin assessment of the Central Appalachian Basin (CAPP) resources, including waste streams, that could be reused as feedstocks and raw materials in processes that produce CORE-CM products; preparation of R&D plans to fill information gaps in the assessments of CORE-CM resources and regional waste streams; Technology and Economic Gap Assessment and Identification to address barriers and spur growth for the basin’s CORE-CM resources, including preparation of initial research plans to fill those gaps; and preparation of plans for stakeholder outreach and education that are necessary to support these activities. This will then culminate in the preparation of initial plans for a Technology Innovation Center (TIC) that will be developed and operated by a basin-specific public-private partnership, leveraging facilities and resources of the MAPP-CORE team.


The project will develop basin assessments for resources, infrastructure, industries, and businesses, which will then guide a technical research agenda and provide the foundations for a TIC to accelerate the commercial deployment of these technologies in a region eager for business investment and economic opportunity. 

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

Our efforts to demonstrate a practical Rare Earth Element/Critical Material (REE/CM) extraction process --at an active, remote, and small-scale AMD treatment site have progressed on schedule. During the June field visit, researchers were able to install remote solar power to operate control valves that permit the HPC release into the geotubes. Geotubes were also fixed into place and sodium hydroxide lines were installed to control the pH at various points in the system. WVU researchers have completed the construction of the extraction system at the Fola site and initiated the extraction process. HPC was collected in limited quantities at the Fola demonstration site between September 2023 and November 2023.

We have completed a report entitled, “Economic Summary of CORE-CM in the Mid-Appalachian Basin. Our research finds that industries involved in critical minerals production are generally small in the Mid-Appalachian Basin with little production or employment. Critical minerals employment in the Basin is a small fraction of a percent of the Basin’s overall economy and employment has been declining over the last two decades. However, the Basin does contain a larger share of these industries than other parts of the country. Within the last two decades, three states in the region have been home to critical minerals sector employment two to six times higher than the national average.

Current Status

The overall objective of this Initiative is to identify key barriers and opportunities in connecting CORE-CM materials and resources to end users and manufacturers, including technical, workforce and economic considerations within the mid-Appalachian basin. Our basinal characterization continued with work performed this quarter heavily focused on ongoing data compilation and evaluation, particularly as these efforts relate to Subtasks 2.1 and 2.2.4.  The lack of locational and operations information for pre-modern coal mining activity throughout the project study area remains a challenge.

The WVU AMD team kicked off our additional sampling to be done through the 500K extension. This past quarter, WVWRI went on 8 sampling trips, collecting a total of 25 samples for the project. These samples come from the following hydrologic unit codes 8 (HUC 8): North Branch of the Potomac River (02070002), Cheat River (05020004), Monongahela River (05020003), Youghiogheny River (05020006), as well as two samples collected in Pennsylvania (HUCs 03074500 and 03072750). The majority of the samples this quarter (12 out of the 25) were collected in the Cheat River watershed, focused on the source water entering the T+T/Muddy Creek WVDEP treatment plant for possible future retrofit.

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DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL – Eric Smistad ( or 832-603-0435) 
WVU - Paul Ziemkiewicz ( or 304-293-6462)