ISGS project will seek valuable elements, minerals from coal and coal waste

The Office of Fossil Energy within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected to award nearly $1.5 million to the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) for a project that will evaluate the availability of valuable rare earth elements and critical minerals in coal and coal waste streams in Illinois and nearby states. 

Rare earth elements and critical minerals are vital to the manufacture of batteries, magnets, and other components of clean energy systems and other important technologies. The United States currently relies on imports for many mineral commodities, so identifying a domestic source is a high priority.

The Illinois Basin Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Mineral Initiative (IB CORE-CM) will assess the potential for advanced mining techniques and state-of-the-art separation and mineral extraction technologies to produce these mineral resources from coal and coal waste in and around the Illinois Basin, which underlies most of Illinois and extends into southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky. The project also will determine what local infrastructure is needed to produce CORE-CM resources for U.S. industry and stimulate regional economic growth.

“A major aim of this project is to evaluate critical elements within a region that has traditionally been a region of fossil fuel production,” said project principal investigator Jared Freiburg, an ISGS mineral resource geologist. The project will define a plan for a technology innovation center to address analytical challenges, extraction requirements, resource assessments, and product creation specific to Illinois Basin carbon ore, rare earth, and critical minerals and to serve as a focus for outreach, industry participation, and the pursuit of commercial opportunities.  

Project partners include Southern Illinois University, the Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, and Tennessee state geological surveys, SynTerra Corporation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Carpenter Global. 

Read the U.S. DOE announcement of this and a dozen other critical mineral projects