Rare earth metals from coal
by Mark Curtis
A closed coal mine just south of Morgantown may actually signal the future of the coal industry through a mining by-product known as Rare Earth Elements. While they aren’t household names, Rare Earth Elements are used in many products. Cell phones, computers, magnets, and especially in national defense hardware. When asked if the old coal mine is now like a potential gold mine because of rare earth elements, Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, WVU Professor and Director of the Water Research Institute, responded, “That’s a nice way of putting it.... The red phosphor in your television screen, for example, is europium. That’s a Rare Earth Element,” said Dr. Ziemkiewicz.