GILLETTE (WNE) — The U.S. Department of Energy wants to research the extraction of rare earth elements in the western part of the country, and Campbell County could be the place where that research will be done.
The University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources hopes to partner with the DOE and its National Energy Technology Laboratory to do that research and needs the support of local governments.
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The Gillette City Council considered a commitment letter in support of the project at a special meeting Thursday afternoon, while Campbell County Commissioners did the same at the end of their Public Health meeting Thursday night.
Scott Quillinan, director of research at the School of Energy Resources, said UW has been studying the coal seams in the Powder River Basin to measure the concentration of rare earth elements. There’s reason to continue that research, he said, because PRB coal has rare earth potential.
Rare earth elements have many uses, from batteries and magnets to lights and wind turbines. But they are not mined domestically.