The objectives of the study are to quantify rare earth elements (REE) and critical minerals (CM) resources in feedstocks within the U.S. Gulf Coast Basin, including coal from mines, coal ash from power plants, and refuse. REE and CM will also be quantified in water co-produced with oil in reservoirs adjacent to coal resources. Additional objectives include linking these mineral resources to manufacturing of high-value products, including nonfuel carbon-based products (CBPs), planning the development of a Technology Innovation Center, and stakeholder outreach and education to achieve the overall goal of enhancing economic growth and job creation to support economic development in the Gulf Coast.
University of Texas at Austin - Austin, TX, 78759
Geological Survey of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, AL 35486
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – Reston VA 20192
University of Kentucky – Lexington, KY 40511
University of North Dakota Institute of Energy Studies - Grand Forks, ND 58202
University of Wyoming – Laramie, WY 82071
The methods involve development of coal and ash resource assessments by leveraging previous coal assessments and using power plant ash data. The geological assessment involves mapping the resources, considering depositional environments and structural data, resulting in a detailed geomodel of the Gulf Coast coals. Analysis of REE and CM in ~50 - 100 samples of coal and ash are designed to substantially expand the existing database and deepen our understanding of the potential for these resources. The Gulf Coast Basin has many surface lignite mines that have been highly under sampled for REE and CM; however, potential REE and CM resources may be as high as shown in studies of North Dakota lignite. In addition, much of the coal combusted in power plants in the Gulf Coast over the past decade is sourced from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, which has been shown to be promising in terms of REE and CM recovery. The study will benefit from rapidly expanding REE and CM processing in the Gulf Coast providing feedback on quality needs and resource value. The intensive industrialization in the Gulf Coast region represents a large market for REE and CM products. The comprehensive assessment of REE and CM is designed to evaluate the volumes of these feedstocks and link upstream and midstream supply chains with downstream processing and manufacturing to enhance U.S. national and economic security.
CORE-CM projects will develop and implement strategies that enable each specific U.S. basin to realize its full economic potential for producing REE, CM and high-value, nonfuel, carbon-based products from basin-contained resources. U.S. CORE-CM projects will focus on the following six objectives: (1) basinal assessment of CORE-CM resources, (2) basinal strategies 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.
Regular project review and working group meeting are planned to continue. The project website will continue to be populated. Lignite coal samples from Gibbons Creek will be sent to the University of North Dakota to conduct sequential leaching and assess the ease of extraction of REEs. Meetings are planned to discuss coal ash resource mapping with groups in other regions throughout the U.S. A subcontract is also planned to apply remote sensing approaches to map coal ash resources in the Gulf Coast Basin.