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OSMRE funds efforts to extract critical minerals from mine wastes

Date: September 20, 2022
Contact: getinfo@osmre.gov (202) 208-2565

 

WASHINGTON – As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to address legacy pollution and promote the sustainable and responsible domestic development of critical minerals, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is funding eight projects to share $1.6 million through its Applied Science Program, including four projects that will study methods to improve the recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) from coal mining waste.

The Applied Science Program advances the development of technology, tools and methods to protect the public and the environment during coal mining and reclamation of abandoned coal mine sites. This is the first time that OSMRE has included the identification and recovery of REEs as an eligible topic. REEs play an essential role in a number of materials needed for today's clean energy technologies and are included on the U.S. Geological Survey list of critical minerals.

"OSMRE is excited to support researchers developing new and better methods to extract REEs from coal waste and coal byproducts, which will support the nation's effort to develop new sources of critical minerals while also addressing longstanding environmental problems plaguing coal communities and polluting waterways across the country," said Deputy Director Glenda Owens.

From a pool of 39 project proposals received across the nation, OSMRE selected eight of the most relevant and promising proposals for funding. The following projects have been awarded: 

  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology: To develop a bio-electrochemical extraction process of rare earth elements from coal mine waste.
  • Southern Illinois University: To investigate an economical and environment-friendly rare earth elements recovery strategy.
  • University of Pittsburgh: To optimize rare earth element capture during treatment of acid mine drainage.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: To develop a new method for interpreting open-source remote sensing data to better characterize vegetative cover and type on reclaimed surface coal mines.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: To enhance dewatering of acid mine drainage sludge with a low-cost, efficient method.
  • West Virginia University Research Corporation: To optimize dewatering of remote acid mine drainage treatment sites.
  • West Virginia University Research Corporation: To use unmanned aerial vehicles for long-term planning and control of invasive species.
  • West Virginia University Research Corporation: To extract rare earth elements from Appalachian coarse coal refuse.

Projects are funded up to $200,000 through a cooperative agreement. Each agreement is established for a period consistent with the proposal; generally, agreements do not exceed two years from the date of the award. For more information on the Applied Science Program and funded projects, please visit https://www.osmre.gov/programs/applied-science.

-- OSMRE --

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement carries out the requirements of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 in cooperation with states and Tribes. OSMRE’s objectives are to ensure that coal mining activities are conducted in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining, to ensure that the land is restored to beneficial use after mining, and to mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing reclamation of abandoned coal mines.

 

OSMRE invites beta testing of acid mine drainage tool

Date: August 17, 2022
Contact: getinfo@osmre.gov (202) 208-2565

Revised software compares treatment methods, incorporates long-term operation and maintenance 

WASHINGTON – As part of its efforts to protect communities and the environment from the toxic impacts of reclaimed coal mines, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement invites industry leaders, environmental groups, states, and Tribes to beta test a newly revised software tool that estimates the cost of treating acid mine drainage (AMD). Beta testing will run through November 30, 2022.

AMDTreat 6.0 is long awaited and contains significant upgrades that will help users calculate more accurate immediate and long-term operations and maintenance costs for treating acid mine drainage,” said Jeff Ream, the project lead and a civil engineer in OSMRE’s Technical Support Division. “AMDTreat users will get estimates based on validated data and real-world treatment systems, allowing them to make the most cost-effective and efficient treatment strategies.”

The new version of AMDTreat better estimates the long-term replacement, operation, and maintenance costs of water treatment processes, and it includes enhancements such as a geochemical model to better predict wastewater effluent quality.

The revised software: 

  • Incorporates the USGS PHREEQC software to geochemically model mine drainage treatment.
  • Factors in replacement and maintenance costs.
  • Estimates the adequacy of existing system designs.  
  • Optimizes new system designs to ensure selection of the most economic and environmentally protective system. 

The launch of the AMDTreat beta test comes on the heels of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted on November 15, 2021. The law provides nearly $11.3 billion to address abandoned mine land (AML) sites and enhances the ability of states and Tribes to treat AMD by allowing AML funds to be used to design, build, operate, and maintain acid mine drainage treatment facilities that are not in conjunction with a Priority 1 or Priority 2 site or within a qualified hydrologic unit.

OSMRE collaborated with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and USGS to develop AMDTreat 6.0.

Learn more about AMDTreat and register to be a beta tester

– OSMRE –

OSMRE carries out the requirements of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 in cooperation with states and Tribes. OSMRE’s objectives are to ensure that coal mining activities are conducted in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining, to ensure that the land is restored to beneficial use after mining, and to mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing reclamation of abandoned coal mines.

OSMRE makes $1.3 million in Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program grants available for acid mine drainage cleanup

Date: August 4, 2022
Contact: getinfo@osmre.gov (202) 208-2565

OSMRE makes $1.3 million in Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program grants available for acid mine drainage cleanup

WASHINGTON – As part of its efforts to combat legacy coal mining pollution and create healthier communities, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is making approximately $1.3 million available in fiscal year 2022 for Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program (WCAP) grants to allow non-profit organizations to undertake acid mine drainage reclamation projects. The money will allow local watershed restoration groups and other non-profit organizations to partner with states to help further the impact of the historic investment in acid mine drainage cleanup provided by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.Long narrow ALD. Workers wrapping the limestone with synthetic liner before burial.  Vertical pipes are used to measure head loss caused by the gradual accumulation of precipitate within the porosity of the limestone.

These investments promote healthy watersheds, support clean drinking water, productive fisheries and outdoor recreation, and ultimately provide a positive impact for local economies, the environment and overall quality of life for local residents.

WCAP grants are capped at a maximum of $100,000 per project to complete local acid mine drainage reclamation projects. Projects can include installation of passive or active water treatment systems, including repairs and renovations. Projects can include reclamation of lands that are contributing sediment or acid forming materials to streams.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes a historic $11.3 billion investment to clean up abandoned mine lands over the next fifteen years, including by treating acid mine drainage and improving local water quality.

Non-profit watershed restoration groups and other non-profit organizations are invited to submit proposals for Watershed Cooperative Agreement program awards to restore the health of local streams and provide community recreational opportunities. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on September 20.

To be eligible for WCAP grants, applicants must be a not-for-profit organization, including minority-serving institutions, that is tax exempt under 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code B. Organizations are encouraged to have partners contributing either funds or in-kind services to the project.

For more information about the WCAP grants and to apply for financial assistance, visit Grants.gov.

For examples of WCAP funded projects, visit https://www.osmre.gov/programs/watersheds.

– OSMRE –

The OSMRE carries out the requirements of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 in cooperation with states and Tribes. OSMRE’s objectives are to ensure that coal mining activities are conducted in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining, to ensure that the land is restored to beneficial use after mining, and to mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing reclamation of abandoned coal mines.

OSMRE observes 45th anniversary of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act

Date: August 3, 2022
Contact: news@osmre.gov (202) 208-2565

Landmark law helping to reinvigorate coal country as nation shifts to clean energy

WASHINGTON – Today, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement observes the 45th anniversary of the enactment of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.

SMCRA established the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for two basic purposes:

  • To ensure that the nation's coal mines operate in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining operations and to restore the land to beneficial use following mining.
  • To implement an Abandoned Mine Land program to address the hazards and environmental degradation resulting from over two centuries of coal mining activities that occurred before the law was passed in 1977.

Deputy Director Glenda Owens and OSMRE staff observe 45th anniversary of SMCRAA theme of the 45th anniversary observance is reinvigorating coal country over the next 15 years as the nation shifts to clean energy. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, P.L. 117-58, enacted on November 15, 2021, provides historic levels of funding to address legacy coal clean up and spur economic redevelopment. A total of $11.3 billion in AML funding over 15 years will go towards helping communities eliminate dangerous environmental conditions and pollution caused by past coal mining. This funding is expected to address the vast majority of inventoried abandoned coal mine lands in this country.

“OSMRE, through the promise of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, has the resources to reinvigorate coal country as the nation shifts toward a clean energy future,” said Deputy Director Glenda Owens.

Over the last 45 years, SMCRA has directly contributed to the closure of more than 45,000 abandoned underground mine shafts and openings; regraded nearly 1,100 miles of highwalls; and rehabilitated more than 1,500 miles of clogged streams. All of this has improved health, safety, and economic conditions in mining communities.

– OSMRE –

OSMRE carries out the requirements of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 in cooperation with states and Tribes. OSMRE’s objectives are to ensure that coal mining activities are conducted in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining, to ensure that the land is restored to beneficial use after mining, and to mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing reclamation of abandoned coal mines.
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