Recycling plant turns coal country into rare earth powerhouse

AJ Gonzalez | January 19, 2022

Mining, Amanda Stutt | January 14, 2022 | 11:52 am

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HG Ventures and American Rare Earth LLC are teaming up to scale up the recycling of batteries, magnets and e-waste with the goal of recovering and supplying critical minerals and rare earth metals to US and global markets.

They are aiming to use legacy tailings from coal mines in the vast Appalachia coal mining region of the eastern US to strip out rare earths and recycle them in a new facility being built in Noblesville, Indiana.  “What we do is take big legacy assets and restructure and reposition them, to monetize the entire asset base focusing on infrastructure electrification,” Mark Jensen, CEO of  American Resources

“We want to be part of the supply chain that’s definitely needed right now — while using the environmental liability through coal mining to find high-value ways to strip out rare earths in an economical way, which is a challenge. Through that, we built up a technology process chain that has pivoted us to more of a circular economy where we focus on recycling existing magnets.”

Mining rare earths, essential elements to realizing an electrified economy, can be challenging as materials needed are either not yet mined, or are latent, stranded, for example, in old coal mines – environmental legacy liabilities spread all over North America.  “The concept of concentration is a big deal – going after the high-value concentrate — that’s the key driver,” he said. “The mining industry needs to do a better job of utilizing innovative technologies [as a way] of looking to clean up environmental liabilities.”

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