The University of Wyoming receive close to $3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for research that focuses on expanding and transforming the use of coal and coal-based-based resources to produce coal-based products, using carbon, ore, rare earth elements (REE) and critical minerals (CM), according to the UW website.

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The Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy selected two separate projects submitted by the UW School of Energy Resources and Center for Economic Geology Research, and the DOE will provide funding to those projects. The funds, according to the UW article, will cover research in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, as well as the Greater Green River and Wind River basins of Wyoming and Colorado.

“SER is thrilled to have received these grants from the Department of Energy,” said SER Executive Director Holly Krutka. “We are honored to collaborate with stakeholders around the state and region to lead a research program focused on building the tools needed to support a rare earths and critical minerals industry.”

The UW article stated that the production of rare earth elements, as well as critical materials, is “vital for use in electronics, magnets, batteries, phosphors for lighting, as well as applications in national security and clean energy production – including the manufacturing of wind turbines.”

The United States have been relying on REE imports from China, but as the demand for them has grown, the U.S. has begun finding alternate domestic services.

The Department of Energy has made the recovery of REEs from coal-based resources easier, according to the article. “The state of Wyoming, and particularly the PRB and GGRB-WRB, are well positioned to support carbon ore, REE, and CM research,” the article wrote.

“I couldn’t be more excited for these projects,” said CEGR Director Scott Quillinan. “Wyoming, Colorado and Montana have vast natural resources, and we are just beginning to learn the full potential of REE and CM resources associated with coal seams. It is interesting even though the two projects overlap much of Wyoming, the rare earth element and critical mineral resources located in each of the basins are very different. These projects will lay the framework for new industries in each of these basins.”

To read the full article, visit uwyo.edu.

For the complete DOE media release about CORE-CM awards, visit the Energy Department’s website.

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