July 14, 2017

Manchin Introduces REACT Bill to Enhance Critical Minerals Extraction Technology

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Rare Earth Element Advancing Coal Technologies Act (REACT), which would allow for the development of technology capable of extracting rare earth elements (REEs) and minerals from coal and coal byproducts in the U.S. to re-establish domestic production.

“The U.S. depends on foreign imports for its supply of rare earth elements,” Senator Manchin said. “This bill will support continued research into advancing technologies that can extract these valuable products from coal and coal byproducts.  It will encourage the re-establishment and growth of domestic production of our rare earth elements. These materials are an essential part of our economy as they are used in a range of everyday items Americans rely on from televisions and mobile phones as well as strategic weapons systems we need for our national defense. This commonsense measure promotes national security and economic development right here at home.”

“The potential for extraction and separation of rare earth elements from coal and coal byproducts presents a unique and exciting opportunity to extract additional value from the coal resources of Appalachian coalfields. The rare earth elements are abundant in our coal and acid-min drainage sludges and the development of technologies capable of creating a domestic supply from these materials is critically important,” said Dr. Brian Anderson, GE Plastics Materials Engineering Professor in chemical engineering at West Virginia University and Director of the WVU Energy Institute.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) began studying the potential of extracting rare earth elements from coal and coal by products in 2010, and expanded its REE research efforts in 2014. In 2016, NETL’s Rare Earth Elements (REE) from Coal and Coal By?Products RD&D Program awarded two grants to West Virginia University for researchers to evaluate the potential use of REE’s from coal byproducts in the region. REACT authorizes an annual appropriation of $20,000,000 a year to the Department of Energy.  The bill also requires the Secretary of Energy to provide a report to Congress in consultation with the Secretary of Defense that will evaluate the research, development, and demonstration of REE production technologies as well as evaluate the market impact of commercialization of these coal-based technologies.