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CORE-CM in the Greater Green River and Wind River Basins: Transforming and Advancing a National Coal Asset
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The goal of this project is to develop and catalyze regional economic growth, job creation, and associated technology innovation in The Greater Green River Basin/Wind River Basin (GGRB-WRB) of Wyoming and Colorado. This growth will be achieved by planning for increasing the supply of Carbon Ore (CORE), Critical Materials (CM), and Rare Earth Elements (REE) to manufacturers of non-fuel Carbon Based Products (CBP) and products reliant upon CM. The project has assembled a coalition team to describe what relationships, technology, infrastructure, and scientific understanding of these resources are necessary to achieve this objective.


University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071
Colorado School of Mines/Colorado Geological Survey, Golden, CO 80401
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545
Colorado Northwestern Community College, Craig, CO 81625
Western Wyoming Community College, Rock Springs, WY 81901


This project seeks to develop a strategic plan in support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Minerals (CORE-CM) Initiative for U.S. Basins. The Greater Green River Basin and Wind River Basin (GGRB-WRB) stretch from central Wyoming to northern Colorado. These basins are home to major coal mines, other extractive industries (e.g., uranium, trona, helium, oil, natural gas), and major industrial operations (e.g., power, soda-ash, gas-separation, phosphate) that are well positioned with a diversity of potential feedstocks and materials to benefit progression toward commercial success of CORE-CM. The project advanced through this effort is aware of unique regional challenges and brings together a highly supportive and committed group of CORE-CM stakeholders (from across the value chain), a highly trained energy-savvy work force, and a uniquely experienced CORE-CM relevant assessment team. Specifically, this project is designed to bring together state of the art research, coal-based communities, and stakeholders to advance new industries for CORE-CM resources in the GGRB-WRB.

Planned Research Activities

  1. Assessment of main-seam coal sediments, coal mine refuse, acid mine drainage, coal combustion residuals, non-fuel coal-product residuals, and other regionally distinctive materials to evaluate potential as CORE-CM feedstocks.
  2. Catalog waste streams from proposed CORE-CM production and other regional industries to develop reuse options that minimize disposal issues and improve CORE-CM economics.
  3. Evaluate regional infrastructure, industries, and businesses to discover basin-specific ways to connect main CORE-CM supply chains from extraction through refining to manufacturing of non-fuel CBP and high-value CM products.
  4. Assess both conventional and innovative technologies to overcome region-specific challenges in CORE-CM extraction, refining, and manufacturing.
  5. Plan public-private partnerships to develop technology innovation centers in the GGRB-WRB.
  6. Develop outreach and education strategies to collaborate with stakeholders, train future workforces, and collaborate with other CORE-CM projects.

The coalition team created in this project will produce and begin to implement plans to fulfill the CORE-CM program’s upstream, midstream, and downstream goals. The GGRB-WRB of Colorado and Wyoming contain abundant CORE-CM feedstocks, waste streams, opportunities for technology development and placement, experienced stakeholders both public and private, and regional communities supporting extensive workforces. By combining feedstocks and waste streams in new ways with new or optimized technologies with an eye to reuse of existing infrastructure and social arrangements, this project will catalyze growth, and realize the full potential of the CORE-CM resources of the GGRB-WRB.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • A preliminary assessment of existing basinal infrastructure has been completed.
  • Preliminary CORE-CM resource data has been compiled with new sampling strategies completed.
  • Access, samples, and/or data to all existing mines within the area of research has been achieved.
  • Preliminary catalog of waste streams within the area of research completed, with identification of R&D partnerships included.
  • Scoping and criteria matrix developed for Technology Innovation Center planning.
  • Initial CORE-CM technology review completed and novel technologies identified.
  • CORE-CM annual forum successfully held at collaborating Western Wyoming Community College.
  • Extensive stakeholder outreach and education efforts including webinars, meetings/discussions, and tribal outreach discussions.
Current Status

The full project team is working on all tasks concurrently with no remaining contracts or agreements pending. Site Access Agreements are complete for all coal mines sites within the the area of research where new data will be achieved. All remaining coal mines, where on site access is not required for CORE-CM success, have contributed samples or data for the project. Resource assessments of main-seam coal sediments, coal mine refuse, acid mine drainage, coal combustion residuals, non-fuel coal-product residuals, and other regionally distinctive materials is underway with hundreds of data and samples being compiled. CORE-CM resource modeling framework(s) has been decided upon with initial data culling underway. Potential waste streams from CORE-CM efforts are preliminarily catalogued as a framework document to be completed as technology assessment data becomes relevant. Industry stakeholder interviews are currently distributed as a survey and are designed to integrate information across basinal infrastructure and industries. An industry, business and infrastructure mapping tool is being assembled to represent this data. Stakeholder development and integration is continually growing with SER hosting CORE-CM specific webinars, stakeholder meetings/discussion, and outreach conversations to certain communities. The first annual stakeholder forum was hosted at Western Wyoming Community College, October 20th 2022.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL – Joseph Renk ( or 412-386-6406)
University of Wyoming – Davin Bagdonas ( or 307-766-6863)