(The Center Square) – A company is investing $60 million to develop a site in Wyoming County, West Virginia to extract rare earth metals from coal impoundments through a zero-waste and zero-emissions process.
The company, Omnis Sublimation Recovery Technologies, has begun engineering and will immediately start site infrastructure, according to a news release from Gov. Jim Justice’s office. OSRT intends to complete the building and equipment by mid-2023.
“I am beyond excited to welcome this company to Southern West Virginia,” Justice said in a statement. “Coal is such a big part of our state’s livelihood, and it’s amazing that we can now take the coal waste and turn it into something the world desperately needs, all while providing jobs to our hard-working people and investment to our great state.”
The company intends to hire 100 new employees to operate the technology. The West Virginia Department of Economic Development helped secure the job for the state, helped the company navigate the permitting process and will provide financial incentives.
"OSRT is giving new life to West Virginia's coal waste impoundments by using the only commercially viable process to extract strategic metals and rare earth elements without any waste and no negative environmental impact," OSRT Vice President of Global Sustainability and Innovation Michelle Christian said in a statement. "West Virginia has continuously provided our great country with the highest quality natural resources that built our society for the last 200 years, and we are proud to be a part of the next generation."
According to the governor’s office, the rare earth metals extracted from the coal impoundments are needed for developing smartphones, computers and other electronic devices. They are also used to create high-performance building materials. They noted that coas waste is rich in these minerals because the mining process concentrates them.
“We are ecstatic about this announcement,” Mitch Carmichael, the secretary of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, said in a statement. “Bringing jobs to our people is one of our top priorities, and being able to do that while also utilizing the resources we have in our state is a win-win for everyone. We can’t wait to see what comes of this partnership.”
The governor’s office stated that this investment will turn coal waste into a strategic asset to grow West Virginia's economy.
Earlier this year, Omnis Building Technologies invested $40 million in Bluefield to manufacture housing materials. That investment is expected to create between 150 and 300 jobs.