WVU Gets $5 Million for Rare Earth Recovery Project

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $5 million to the Water Research Institute at West Virginia University for its rare earth recovery project.

The project includes building a facility at a new acid mine drainage treatment plant near Mount Storm. Rare earth elements come from acid mine drainage sludge and are used to power things like smart phones and the U.S. missile guidance system.

The institute will partner with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Special Reclamation, Rockwell Automation and TenCate Corp. in the project.

About 15,000 tons of rare earth elements are used annually in the U.S., which imports nearly all of them. A bench scale pilot plant was opened in 2018 on WVU’s campus to test the feasibility of extraction and refining technology.

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.