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DEP Video: WVU researchers refining rare earth element recovery process from acid mine drainage

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Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of West Virginia University’s Water Research Institute
Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU, explains the importance of extracting rare earth elements from acid mine drainage and what it will mean to the state of West Virginia in the above video by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.  The sludge is a byproduct of the water treatment process and was a waste product with no value, until now.

Acid mine drainage
Example of acid mine drainage polluting rivers and streams in West Virginia.
CAN WVU's METHOD FOR EXTRACTING RARE EARTH ELEMENTS BE A COMMERCIAL SUCCESS?
RESEARCH OBJECTIVE Build a pilot plant to test the technical and economic feasibility of extracting rare earth elements (REEs) from acid mine drainage (AMD). 

WVU Rare Earth Extraction Facility
The pilot plant is located at West Virginia University's National Research Center for Coal and Energy in Morgantown.

POTENTIAL ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THIS RESEARCH

  • Erect plants on existing, easy-to-access, permitted, AMD treatment sites
  • Produce 800 tons per year of REEs from acid mine drainage sludge for national security needs
  • Generate new revenue for coal and coal-based industries
  • Create financial incentives to treat abandoned mine sources of AMD
  • Employ existing workforce and infrastructure
  • Diversity Appalachia's economy
  • Restore watersheds
-EI-

tn/9/24/18

CONTACT:  Paul Ziemkiewicz, Director, West Virginia Water Research Institute 
304.293.6958; Paul.Ziemkiewicz@mail.wvu.edu