JEDDO, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Some say the future of the coal industry looks a whole lot brighter. This comes after the confirmation that coal — specifically Anthracite Coal — contains elements that are used in all types of hi-tech products. Eyewitness News first told you about what’s called ‘Rare Earth Elements” or R.E.E..’s in June.
A U.S. Department of Energy Sponsored research project in our region confirms those elements are present in our coal deposits. Our Lead I- Team Reporter Andy Mehalshick has been working this story for months and has more on what this could mean to our region and the nation.
Some are calling it a game changer for the hard coal industry. The question now is what happens next?. We talked to the chairman of the Texas company that is leading the effort to extract the rare earth elements from that coal.
“There’s so much excitement in the industry right now”. Said Mike Aukspakalnis, Jeddo Coal Company
That’s how employees of the Jeddo Coal Company near Hazleton reacted today when they heard the news that Rare Earth Elements are contained within anthracite coal..
U.S.. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited the operation in September to check out the progress of a research project funded by a one million dollar federal grant to determine if the coal contains R.E.E.’s.
Turns out.. it does…now the question is how to extract those elements.
The I-Team spoke to Anthony Marchese, chairman of the Texas based company that will lead that effort. “We take this coal and create or extract a liquid solution from the coal and in that liquid solution you have,for lack of a better term, a syrup and the R.E.E’s” and other strategic metals.”
Those metals ae used to make things like cellphones, computers and weapons systems.. Experts are looking into the cost effectiveness of removing those elements.
Based on the data we’ve seen we believe we can profitably produce rare earth elements and strategic materials from this coa deposit that we are looking at in Pennsylvania.” Said Marchese.
Congressman Lou Barletta helped steer the project to Luzerne County “This administration is committed to rare earth value it will have jobs in our area good paying jobs also make our area a place where people want to come to rather than us looking to bring businesses in.”
Jim Montone is chairman of the Hazle Township Supervisors. Several coal mining operations are located in the township, he sees only good things from all of this.
“The economic boost to the area just the jobs good paying jobs on top of it.”
Eyewitness News was told that work to extract those Rare Earth Elements could get underway early next year. There are no other similar projects in other parts of the country. This project is also seen as national security issue. Right now the US gets nearly all of its “Rare Earth Elements” from China.