The overall goal of the project is to identify key barriers and opportunities in connecting Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Minerals (CORE-CM) materials and resources to end users and manufacturers, including technical, workforce, and economic considerations within the mid-Appalachian basin.
West Virginia University (WVU) Research Corporation, Morgantown, WV
University of Kentucky (UK), Lexington, KY
West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey (WVGES), Morgantown, WV
Virginia Tech (VT), Blacksburg, VA
DRB Geological Consulting (DRB), New Brighton, PA
Pennsylvania Geological Survey (PAGS), Pittsburgh, PA
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN
Synterra Corporation, Lexington, KY
TechConnect West Virginia (TCWV), Morgantown, WV
The Mid-APPalachian Carbon Ore, Rare Earth, and Critical Minerals (MAPP-CORE) Initiative is focused on the expansion and transformation of the use of coal and coal-based resources, including waste streams, to produce products of high value to the 21st Century energy and manufacturing ecosystem. These products would include Rare Earth Elements (REE) and Critical Minerals (CM), as well as high-value nonfuel Carbon Materials and Carbon-Based Products (CBP). The economic potential and need are obvious in central Appalachia, providing opportunities for economic diversification, workforce development, advanced technological development, and business creation. The team has established cooperative and collaborative relationships with a robust and diverse group of industrial partners representing the full supply chain from land-owners to mine operators to process technology companies to market analysts to downstream consumers. The project will accomplish these goals by performing the following tasks: A basin assessment of the Central Appalachian Basin (CAPP) resources, including waste streams, that could be reused as feedstocks and raw materials in processes that produce CORE-CM products; preparation of R&D plans to fill information gaps in the assessments of CORE-CM resources and regional waste streams; Technology and Economic Gap Assessment and Identification to address barriers and spur growth for the basin’s CORE-CM resources, including preparation of initial research plans to fill those gaps; and preparation of plans for stakeholder outreach and education that are necessary to support these activities. This will then culminate in the preparation of initial plans for a Technology Innovation Center (TIC) that will be developed and operated by a basin-specific public-private partnership, leveraging facilities and resources of the MAPP-CORE team.
The project will develop basin assessments for resources, infrastructure, industries, and businesses, which will then guide a technical research agenda and provide the foundations for a TIC to accelerate the commercial deployment of these technologies in a region eager for business investment and economic opportunity.
The team compiled Lower Elkhorn and Upper Elkhorn #3 coal production data since 1999, building on a previous resource analysis of the Lower Elkhorn coal (Greb et al., 1999). Elemental composition data, acquired since 1999, was also compiled.
A Utica-Point Pleasant (UPP) core from Marshall County, WV was processed using a handheld X-Ray Fluorimeter (XRF) analyzer and data were compared to laboratory XRF data collected during the Utica Shale Consortium study. Given the high volumes of gas and NGLs produced by UPP wells in eastern OH, northern WV, and western PA, it is anticipated that a volumetrically significant waste stream will be generated by UPP drilling.
Coal preparation plant refuse area permits for eastern Kentucky have been acquired from the Kentucky Department of Mines and Office of Surface Mines that extend back to 2000. Waste area positions are checked with Google Earth to confirm locations.
Mined out areas and remaining resource figures are being updated. The Lower Elkhorn and Upper Elkhorn #3 coal production data as well as the elemental composition data has been compiled as pert of calculate remaining coal resources for major economical coal beds.
Mined out areas and remaining resource figures are being updated. Sample splits from the USGS Earth MRI High-Alumina Underclays project continue to be received from USGS and transferred to Virginia Tech for sequential extraction analysis. These samples were collected from throughout the MAPP-CORE region and have known geochemical composition.
In the coming months, the project will begin compiling coal production and elemental data for the Manchester and stratigraphically lower coals. Mined out areas and remaining resource figures will be updated.
Working groups were formed to focus on the ownership, title, and mineral severance issues surrounding coal waste streams. Ownership and potential risk of deconstructing waste piles and impoundments was identified as an early key risk or uncertainty for the entire CORE-CM landscape. If it is unclear who owns the resource, it will be difficult to establish production of the resource. Additionally, if it is unclear who then bears the responsibility and liability for this production, then resource owners have little incentive to allow access to these resources. Project work has focused on the ownership of coal waste areas in the Appalachian Region, and has examined coal waste impoundments, construction methods, problems, regulatory initiatives and how that impacted ownership patterns from experience and consultations with attorneys experienced in the region.