The Official Website of the State of West Virginia

Coal waste piles might be a bright spot in W.Va. economic future


A product needed to produce a high number of electronic gadgets we use every day is in short supply and high demand. But West Virginia has mountains of what are called “rare earth elements” if researchers can come up with a way to tap the stream economically.
The elements are in every computer, TV, or cell phone we use. Currently the largest percentage of those materials are produced and processed in China. The dependence on China makes the vital product unreliable, but Dr. John Deskins with WVU’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research gets excited when he explained one of the largest sources of rare earth elements are contained in old coal waste piles which dot the landscape of West Virginia and a few other Appalachian states.
“These piles and tons of coal waste we’ve been producing for over 100 years have rare earths in them,” Deskins said in a recent appearing on MetroNews Talkline.
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