LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Can coal be king once again in Northeastern Pennsylvania?
The answer may be yes.
It all depends on the outcome of a federally funded research project that will take place in Luzerne County. The I-Team’s Andy Mehalshick has more on the Rare Earth Elements.
The coal mining industry was the life-blood of the economy of Northeastern Pennsylvania for generations.
It is now only a shadow of what it once was but that could change overnight.
If the Department of Energy can extract the rare earth elements that are contained within the waste from coal mining – or in the coal itself..
“There are 17 rare earth metals that are found in the earth’s crust and low and behold Northeastern Pennsylvania has the highest rare earth minerals because of our coal mining and waste in our coal mines.” said Congressman Lou Barletta.
Congressman Lou Barletta helped obtain a one million dollar federal grant for a pilot program at the Jeddo Coal Company near Hazleton..
“They are now finding out the waste from the mining can actually be something that is very valuable not only here in the united states but around the world.” Said Congressman Barletta.
REE’s are used in a wide variety of products including cell phones, computers and hiu-tech weapons systems..
If it’s electronic – it needs these rare elements.
“The United States currently gets all of its REE from China. Some lawmakers say this is also a national security issue and want to find domestic sources of those elements.”
“Northeastern Pennsylvania could again be reborn because of our coal industry.” Noted Congressman Lou Barletta
Hazle township has three coal mining operations within it’s boundaries. Supervisor Bill Gallagher says it could mean more tax revenue and more jobs..
“Anytime you can come up with additional technology I think for the industry the coal industry is good. The coal industry is here and it’s never going away there will always be uses for it.”
The research project is expected to begin within the next month,..