Barletta Announces Grant for Rare Earth Elements Pilot Program near Hazleton

Jun 15, 2017
Press Release
Successful Completion Could Provide Boost to Local Economy

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded grant funding for a pilot program to extract Rare Earth Elements (REEs) from soil overburden from Jeddo Coal Company’s anthracite mining operation in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  The possibility of future, large-scale REEs production from anthracite coal could boost job creation and economic growth in northeastern Pennsylvania and present an opportunity for the U.S. to move away from its reliance on China for these minerals.

Barletta was the first member of Congress to send a letter in support of this pilot program.

“The Department of Energy’s studies have shown that the Appalachian coal fields throughout northeastern Pennsylvania contain some of the highest concentrations of Rare Earth Elements,” Barletta said.  “These elements are critical components of everyday electronics and equipment used in the health care, transportation, and defense industries.  With our abundance of anthracite, we have the potential to create and support good-paying jobs, not just in the coal industry, but in manufacturing and related industries that rely on these elements.”

REEs are a set of 17 metals found in the Earth’s crust.  Due to their unique chemical properties, REEs are used in the production of various high-tech products, including cell phones and computers, and are instrumental in U.S. defense weapons systems.  According to the American Chemistry Council, REEs support more than $329 billion of economic output in North America.

The U.S. gets 100 percent of its REEs supply from China, which currently produces more than 85 percent of the world’s REEs.

“It is critical for our national security that we turn to a domestic source of these minerals,” Barletta said.  “Our military should not have to rely on China or any other country for the resources necessary to keep us safe, especially when those resources are readily available right here in Pennsylvania.”

DOE awarded the $1 million grant to a consortium comprised of Penn State University, Texas Mineral Resources Corporation, Inventure Renewables, and K Technologies through the department’s “Production of Salable Rare Earth Element Materials from Coal and Coal By-Products” funding opportunity announcement.