The Resurgence of the American Coal Industry: “Is coal the new gold?”

Guest post by David Middleton

Is coal the new gold? A Pennsylvania senate candidate thinks so

By John Moody | Fox News

“There’s coal in them thar hills.” If that sounds like a confused reference to the 1849 California gold rush, think again. Long-ignored coal deposits in eastern Pennsylvania have become a key part of President Trump’s pledge to revitalize American mining and to once again produce critical materials needed for our national defense.

Trump’s Department of Energy is working with Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican representing the district where coal was once king. Barletta, who’s running for the U.S. Senate this year, is leading a new push to extract and process so-called rare earth elements (REEs), a collection of 17 metals and minerals essential to building jet engines, rocket launchers, GPS systems, high-power magnets, I-phones, and just about any other device that’s smarter than its user.


High concentrations of rare earths have been found in the anthracite coal deposits of Pennsylvania. If those can be extracted, separated – the 17 REEs are often found fused together – and processed, America will be poised to compete with China, while strengthening our own national security.

Barletta, who plans to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, has been criss-crossing the Keystone state with a simple message: yes, we can. “It’s hard to get people to listen,” he concedes. “They roll their eyes and say ‘Ugh, we’re not going back to those days.’ But then I explain that this is a new day for coal, especially anthracite, and how we can use it for manufacturing, and just as important, for our own national defense. And now, people are beginning to want to talk about it.”

The most encouraging development: the Energy Department survey of Barletta’s district found high levels of scandium, a particularly valuable rare earth that sells for more than $2,000 per kilo.


Fox News


Rare Earth Elements (REE) aren’t actually “rare;” they are actually quite abundant in the Earth’s crust.  REE just tend to occur in very low concentration deposits; making mining very labor intensive.  However, it appears that many U.S. coal formations have relatively high concentrations of REE…

US DOE finds high concentrations of rare earth elements in American coal basins

EBR Staff Writer

Published 30 November 2017

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has identified high concentrations of rare earth element (REE) in coal samples collected from several American coal basins.

Collected from the Illinois, Northern Appalachian, Central Appalachian, Rocky Mountain Coal Basins, and the Pennsylvania Anthracite regions, the samples were found to have high REE concentrations greater than 300 parts per million (ppm).

NETL said: “Concentrations of rare earths at 300ppm are integral to the commercial viability of extracting REEs from coal and coal by-products, making NETL’s finding particularly significant in the effort to develop economical domestic supplies of these elements.”

NETL has partnered with West Virginia University (WVU), the University of Kentucky (UK), Tetra Tech, and the XLight for the research project.

As part of the project, WVU explored acid mine drainage from bituminous coal mines in the Northern and Central Appalachian Coal Basins, while Tetra Tech assessed bituminous, subbituminous, and anthracite coal from the same basins.


Energy Business Review

Some coal-related sedimentary rocks have REE concentrations greater than 600 ppm.


Geology of Rare Earth Deposits by Tracy Bank, Elliot Roth, Bret Howard, Evan Granite

Funny thing, the one of the project leaders is Dr. Evan Granite… You literally couldn’t make that up if you tried.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is researching the feasibility of extracting our “vast untouched” REE resource in coal and coal byproducts and funding pilot projects.


National Lab Works to Extract Rare Earth Elements From Coal

Tue, 09/19/2017

by Joe Golden, National Energy Technology Laboratory

For more than a century, coal has increased our nation’s prosperity and energy security. Now, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are investigating whether this abundant domestic resource could yield yet another potentially game-changing benefit—a domestic supply of rare earth elements.


Changing times and changing markets

Today, the United States imports nearly all its rare earth supply from China, but that hasn’t always been the case.

In the 1960s, color televisions became ubiquitous in American homes, and manufacturers required a reliable supply of the rare earth europium to make these new screens. Fortunately, bastnäsite ore, a source of many rare earths, had been discovered in the mountains of California a decade prior. Because of the increased need for rare earths, the small-scale mining operation quickly expanded into a booming industry and launched the United States as the leading global supplier of rare earths.

Near the turn of the 21st century, markets began to shift. Among other factors, competition from overseas rare earth mines eroded U.S. dominance in the rare earths market, and by 2009, China was exporting almost all the world’s supply of rare earths. While initially providing cheaper prices, reliance on a foreign supply of rare earths has made the United States vulnerable to disruptions in overseas markets, underscoring the need for a new domestic source.

A vast untouched resource

Researchers at NETL are moving from the mine to the laboratory and hope to usher in a new era of domestic rare earth supplies through innovation. Their research centers on extracting the valuable elements from coal and coal by-products—a unique solution to an important challenge.

“Coal and coal by-products represents a vast untouched resource,” said NETL Research Engineer Dr. Evan Granite.

Dr. Granite explained that the United States consumes around 16–17 thousand tons of rare earths each year, and this demand could be completely satisfied by extracting rare earths from domestic coal and coal by-products.

“For example, a typical coal contains 62 parts per million (ppm) of total rare earth elements on a whole sample basis.” Dr. Granite said. “With more than 275 billion tons of coal reserves in the United States, approximately 17 million tons of rare earth elements are present within the coal—that’s a 1,000-year supply at the current rate of consumption.”

Coal reserves are not the only potential sources of rare earths. Each year, the United States typically produces around 75-100 million tons of coal fly ash, which contains an even higher concentration of rare earths (more than 400 ppm). Furthermore, clays and shales located above and below coal seams could also serve as possible sources, because they contain approximately 200 ppm of rare earths. DOE-NETL initiated the Rare Earth Elements Program in 2014 to help secure a domestic supply of rare earths by addressing the feasibility of separating and extracting REEs from coal and coal by-products including fly ash, coal refuse, and acid mine drainage.



R&D Magazine


“For example, a typical coal contains 62 parts per million (ppm) of total rare earth elements on a whole sample basis. With more than 275 billion tons of coal reserves in the United States, approximately 17 million tons of rare earth elements are present within the coal—that’s a 1,000-year supply at the current rate of consumption.”

Dr. Evan Granite, NETL

The resurgence of the American coal industry might return the US to energy and REE production DOMINANCE.

Who would have ever guessed that the Department of Energy was actually capable of doing something useful?  MAGA!


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Gee… “concentrations in the 600 ppm range” are considered high, for REE!
I guess once coal is burnt, the ash contains higher concentrations.


Every REE that doesn’t end up in the coal ash ends up in the atmosphere or in the waste stream from an environmental controls process, so you certainly hope to find high concentrations in the ash.


When coal is burned, do these REEs go up the flue, or are they concentrated in the ash?

Phil Rae

Flyash is the residue remaining after burning coal so I guess these elements remain in the flyash as their respective oxides.


Almost all the ash is recovered as bottom or flyash.


Once the REE’s have been extracted, is the coal still usable as before?? Is there a loss of thermal value?


It’s good to see President Trump caring about national security.

When I was a pup, national security was a big deal. There were rules that meant that military supplies had to have more than one supplier and those suppliers had to be in different regions. The Soviets should not have been able to cripple the American military by bombing one city where all the necessary spare parts were made. By the end of my career, those rules didn’t seem to exist any more.

We’re close to the position where China can cripple America by cutting off the supply of some strategic materials and products. As a hypothetical example, if we want to confront China over its aggression in the South China Sea, we could be stymied.

National security is important. If America doesn’t put itself first, it will be the loser.


We could find ourselves somewhat in the same situation Japan found itself after bombing Pearl Harbor. We might have to win a hypothetical war in 6 months or less, because after that, we might not be able to produce needed weapons systems fast enough or at all. Furthermore, we don’t know whether devices produced in China, for example, have kill switches embedded. Seems like an unacceptable risk to put our weapons systems at risk by purchasing components from foreign producers. I suppose we would keep the nuclear option, and retain sovereignty if we lost a conventional war with a powerful country able to out-produce us. Could be we would lose territory, and not be able to do anything about it. Hawaii and California part of China, Alaska part of Russia.

D. J. Hawkins

That was the whole concept behind strategic reserves. Which various administrations on both end of the political spectrum have sold down over the years for quick cash.

Ed Zuiderwijk

The reason why China was able to undercut the US in the cost of REEs is simple: they didn’t care one jot about the environmental impact of the extraction processes. Result: vast acid lakes and a poisoned environment on an epic scale. Their produce would have been much more expensive if proper environmental protection measures had been in place, measures one assumes are a pre-requisite for the extraction in the US.

Each ‘green’ wind turbine contains a tonne of Neodymium. Nd imported from China. Not so ‘green’ after all.


It is probably a little less than that but significant nonetheless.


As long as the enviros can’t see the mess or don’t live next to it, they don’t care.


“Each ‘green’ wind turbine contains a tonne of Neodymium.”

However that means that there is a huge strategic reserve of REE lying around not being used for any sensible purpose


Has China been extracting the REE’s by burning the coal?

Gary Pearse

no they have rich alternative resources.

Not so sure. The Mountain Pass mine in California has 20 million tons of remaining REE reserves at an average ore concentration of 8.9%—-not 600 ppm in fly ash. The mine hasn’t operated since 2002 and owner Molycorp is in bankruptcy because of price competition from China starting in 2002 as a matter of China national strategy. China reseves total ~30 million tons and China now produces 97% of the worlds annual supply.


I’ll bet you know this….or know where to look
How much REE’s do we need to produce, just for us?
Because we don’t need to supply the world…just ourselves


Prepare to grow you own food, if farmers start thinking “we don’t need to supply the world…just ourselves”. Same with oil, iron and metal production, plastics, cement, any stuff, and everything made of stuff. Then you’ll be back to stone age in no time.

Looked it up for you as my googlefu is pretty good after three books. Souce is USGS 2017 US minerals consumption, page 134, for 2016. 16000 metric tons of rare earth oxides (REO). 100% imported. Domestic production zero. Import value $136 million.


Thanks Rud…you’re my go to

Wonder if that’s enough to sustain domestic production?…..seems like it is


Some coal basins (and hence the fly ash after burning) contain recoverable concentrations of uranium and thorium. There was a paper out of Oak Ridge decades ago about it that I can’t find right now.


If the recover the rare earth metal, maybe they can (probably will) capture the lead and mercury as well. After extraction of most metals then fly ash will be harmless (to so many ppm) and won’t such a concert in its disposal. That would be another win for coal, jobs, the environment and people.

Gary Pearse

Lead and mercury are highly volatile and exit as vapor. Cooling the flue gas is out if the question.

[??? .mod]

Gary Pearse

Mod, you have to burn the coal to get the RE in the ash. The lead and mercury exit the stack as a vapour and are not captured in the ash. My point was to capture the Pb and Hg, you would need to cool the stack gas – impractical!. You could also bubble the stack gas through liquid gold to capture it.

T, there are a couple of tricks here. One is to source very low lead/mercury/arsenic coal. Powder River basin coal is not only low sulfur, it is reasonably low ash and very low in these trace metals. That plus it is stripmined makes it preferable. Second trick is to use activated charcoal in the flue gas stream to capture at least some of the volatile metals. That is actually done at some plants. U Kentucky CAER even has an active research program on this to find better activatiin schemes. I know because my sponsored carbons reseach was mostly done at CAER (plus some at ORNL Carderrock).


Flyash is already a valuable by-product used to improve concrete properties and as a partial replacement for cement. As coal use declines in many parts of the world shortages have occurred and it is imported, usually from Asia.

Bryan A

Dig baby Dig


Carolina Power and Duke Energy for years dumped huge quantities of coal ash into impoundments, and some of the toxins have leaked out into groundwater or have been washed into rivers due to dyke failures. Have REE’s been extracted from the ash prior to dumping it into impoundments? Don’t know but I doubt it. Most of the coal came from W.Virginia and I don’t know the concentration of REE’s in the ash.

Anybody know anything about this?

S1,there have been impoundment leaks and one dam failure—a Duke plant IIRC. No REE has been extracted from what remains because isn’t economic the way China has played the REE game.


We are now buying fly ash from India – it’s coming into the Port of Morehead City. I understand it will be used to make concrete.
And Duke Energy has promised to eliminate the impoundments over time by selling it to the concrete industry, but I don’t think they expect that to be profitable.


One of the problems with fly-ash is that it tends to contain rather a lot of thallium. This is a very toxic substance. Getting rare-earths out of fly-ash is likely to be problematic.

John Green

Thallium has uses in optics, semiconductors, Medicine, High temp superconductors, and many others.
2016 price $7,500 / kg. Might scare you like mercury does but probably worth going after.

Bruce Cobb

Coal may never be “king” again, but perhaps it can be “queen”.


I’m sorry but this targets the resource ignorance of the general population along the lines of space mining and lignite conversion to oil with microwave mini-refineries. I could write a long diatribe on this but you need look no further than the poor shareholders and creditors who got stuck with the Mountain Pass rare earth mine on the Calif-Nev border. It was a vibrant project while it lasted and then low prices wiped them out. You can find the same calls of alarm with most commodities at one time or another. This one borders on space mining though with no real thought about markets.


In space you have to get there.

We already are there and already have the tools.

All that remains is the economics.



“Funny thing, the one of the project leaders is Dr. Evan Granite… You literally couldn’t make that up if you tried.”
Long-standing readers of New Scientist are well familiar with nominative determinism;

Steve Keppel-Jones

It could just be a complete coincidence! You shouldn’t take this sort of thing for granite.


No schist.

Steve Fraser

Igneous of you…


Be Gneis

Jerry Henson

The head of a ski school I attended in Canada in the late 70’s was named Snow.
The manager of a construction project I had at a Water Works was named Rivers.
My all time favorite is a friend named Faircloth. When I asked him about his line
of work, he informed me that he was a judge. What else could he be?

Carbon Bigfoot

My favorite was a purchasing agent for M. W. Kellogg in the sixties was Peter Yanker.


Isn’t this how Major Major achieved his promotion to Major in Catch-22?


Michael S. Kelly

English surnames often came from the original father’s craft or trade. Last year I read a news article which, near the end, quoted a fellow by the name of Tyler Evilsizer. What on earth did his first ancestor do for a living?


Not necessarily the original father. It was more likely the father at the time surnames started getting written down and made permanent.

Per – “Americanized form of German Ebelshäuser, Ebelsheuser, Ebelsheiser, a habitational name from a lost or unidentified place.”

One of the unlucky ones when the clerk at Ellis Island was writing it down. My wife’s family was luckier.


Al Gore will get into the action.

If there is a large profit to be made, he will get in at some point.

Maybe he will even have an apologia for his green crusade or some other explanation why it is ‘good’ to invest in coal. Like he is still for wind power therefore collecting rare earth metals form burnt coal is a necessary evil.

Watch him.


Except that Al Gore did not make his money off green investments.


“Except that Al Gore did not make his money off green investments.”

Most of the Gore money came from tobacco.

Gary Pearse

Before everyone gets too excited, carbonatites in Canada contain ~1+% RE (10,000ppm+). The California one is exceptional at 7% RE oxide. I had a client with a deposit in Quebec for which I did the initial metallurgical work – designing the RE mineral concentration scheme, extraction of RE from the concentrate and I invented a physical method for separating the individual RE elements and thorium employing the variability in magnetic susceptibility of individual RE compounds precipitating out of solution in a column (La, Lu and ever present Thorium are diamegnetic and therefore pushed away from a magnet and collected together)

The drop in prices caused by China put this project on the shelf about 4yrs ago and refinements to the process were never completed. The relative abundance of these elements in a deposit is the critical factor in the economics. Most deposits have Cerium and Lanthanum together up to 85% and these are cheap – I haven’t looked at prices lately but they were around 30-40$/kg – maybe less. The other 15 elements average 12-20% of the total.

Also overall recoveries are low, commonly 60% and current solvent extraction methods of separating individual elements are very expensive (for Terbium for example the immiscible solutions require several thousand cycles, a tiny amount transferred from one solution to the other each cycle). Also the large amounts of scary organic chemicals used was the reason for my research.

My assessment of feasibility- very low for sometime into the future.Even California’s op at 7%grade (70,000ppm) is closed. They have a very complex mineral flotation concentration pricess that I’ve always thought a poor design and would loved to have a crack at redesigning it.

Regarding Scandium, they are right about its 2000 bucks a kilo. I’ve been invited to consult on another project in the far northeast of Quebec this spring with a rare high Scandium content.

Thanks for your patent application reference. Really interesting. I am always interesting in how things work and how they can be made better. New knowledge.

Gary Pearse

Thank you Rud, If interested I have another process invention currently on its way to production. Nemaska Lithium in Quebec. I developed their mineral concentration process for their mine and their hydrometallurgical process for producing lithium hydroxide monohydrate and lithium carbonate using electricity for the first one and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for the second one. A number of refinements were patented after the first one. It has won a few awards and multimillion dollar grants to the company for being green. I’m not a modern green, but I do think we can and should impact the earth as little as necessary. Turns out in this case that Nemaska will also be the cheapest producer and the products are significantly more pure than what’s available in the market today. If you click Nemaska’s technical team button you will see my old mug there.

Did so. Cool. Spodumene. My ex wife has some samples called hiddenite (light green) and morganite (dark pink). Of course, gem quality from Minas Gerias pegmatites in Brazil. Got the stones in Rio while spending large amounts of time consulting in Brazil for the subsidiary of a German client based there.

Oops, meant kunzite. Morganite is pink beryl named after JP Morgan. She has one of those also.

Gary Pearse

You are correct about kunzite or hiddenite. Some green hiddenite from the Quebec mine has been polished for fun. They also have transparent aquamarine (beryl) crrystals up to 2″ across and green emerald in minute crystals visible under the microscope during process work.

Also, I just came back from Minas Gerais before Christmas where I was looking at the main lithium pegmatites around Aracuai (four aircraft and a 4 hour drive each way)! Garempeiros were extracting gem tourmaline there.

David L. Hagen

Environmental Permitting Delays – 7 to 10 YEARS
The Obama era regulations became so onerous that the average time to permit a mine has grown to 7 to 10 years. See SNL Permitting Delay Report
By contrast, the US built the entire transcontinental railroad in 7 years – part of which was during the civil war!
Trump’s emphasis on simplifying/reducing regulations is even more important.


How would you extract the rare earth minerals?

and what would be left over: could you burn it?

That Bastnasite US rare earth mine mentioned in passing seems to be back in business:


OmiGosh Griff! You CONTRIBUTED!

Gary Pearse

Griff, you burn the coal and extract the enriched RE content in the ash. It is easily extracted using industrial acids. I’m doubtful it is anywhere near economic.

Tom Bjorklund,

“a lot of wind turbines do not use rare earth permanent magnets”

Are you sure about that?

I’m not an expert but my understanding is that as they got larger (and so could produce more power) it became unrealistic to have the generation at the top of the pylon using powered magnets. Hence the change to rare earth permanent magnets because they can be used to produce smaller generation sets.

On that basis, older / smaller wind turbines might not use rare earths but newer / larger ones do.


That is correct. Modern large wind turbines require REE to keep generator weight down.

Tom Bjorklund

James asks, “are you sure of that?”

Yes, you get higher magnetic field strenght with electro magnets.

” With a high enough amperage the electromagnet can develop a significantly stronger magnetic field than a permanent magnet.”
It’s the reason they don’t use permanent magnets in the generators in large hydro, coal or nuclear plants. It’s the reason you don’t use them in alternators for cars.

tty: To increase the field strength of a direct drive wind turbine, you have to increase the mass of the rotor. With an electromagnet for the rotor, you can increase the field strength with higher current. Much lighter in weight.


“It’s the reason you don’t use them in alternators for cars.”


The reason you don’t use them in automotive alternators is because the field current needs to be continuously variable in order to regulate the output of the alternator.

They ARE used in automotive starter motors however, and the size of those starter motors has decreased considerably as a result.

Permanent-magnet Starter Motor
Permanent magnet starters were introduced on the vehicles in the late 1980s. Less weight and small size are the two advantages of these motors, compared to conventional types. This causes the permanent magnet starter to be more popular as less space is available for engine electrical in modern cars.

They are used in model aeroplane electric motors too, also as a result of the greatly increased flux compared to wound field motors.

In all such applications, permanent magnets considerably reduce the size and weight compared to wound field types, hence their use in the majority of wind turbines.



which brings a thought…

there are piles of coal ash – situated in ‘lagoons’ around the country, surely?

No need to burn any more, just process the piles of waste which lie about???


The picture of the mine works great with the caption: “This where wind turbines come from”. I have a similar one on my blog, plus coal, iron, bauxite, etc mines. Everyone should know the parenting of those “clean energy” machines.

Tom Bjorklund

Sheri, a lot of wind turbines do not use rare earth permanent magnets.

TB, but all hybrid and electric vehicles do.

Tom Bjorklund

Ristvan, the sign Sheri was talking about said “wind turbines.” It did not say “EV’s or hybrids”

Tom Bjorklund

PS Ristvan, be careful when you say “all electric vehicles do.”

The drive motors can be AC induction:

Bryan A

What about this

The various markets for rare earths, as mixtures, individual elements, or compounds, have developed in a very sporadic fashion and are, essentially, a two-tiered system, Wietlisbach said. “New markets are strong and growing for individual, specialized and high-purity rare earths, particularly for neodymium, which is used in high-performance magnets (permanent magnet motors or PMs) for hybrid vehicles, offshore turbines and defense guidance systems. While the markets for mixed rare earth oxides (REOs), which formerly constituted the bulk of the business, show stagnant demand.”

Tom Bjorklund

Bryan, most onshore wind turbines do not use permanent magnets. Besides, one can make permanent magnets without rare earth elements. For example alnico. All depends on the cost/performance trade offs one makes in engineering the particular device.

Gary Pearse

Tom Bjorkland, all the large wind farm turbines DO use Rare Earths- mainly Neodymium (about a tonne per unit). I suspect that the false information you got was created because of the widely known environmental disaster that the Chinese RE operations are. Multiple illegal ops dig pits in the rich RE clays and simply dump in low grade sulphuric acid, leave this big pond for several days and then pump it out and precipitate rare earth carbonate. The thorium and uranium gets dumped and this stuff leaches into the soils and groundwater. I wonder if more birds are killed in the mining pr8cess than by the turbine blades? Yes that’s how 7gly these green parasites are!

Tom Bjorklund

You are wrong Gary. Most large onshore wind turbines use gearboxes, with high rpm rotors. The rotor magnets are excited electromagnets, much like the alternator in a car. Your car’s alternator doesn’t use permanet magnest because it spins fast. The offshore turbines use permanent magnet rotors because they are direct drive without gearboxes. They don’t use gearboxes offshore because of maintenance issues.

Gary Pearse

Thanx Tom , I’m probably out. of date. a few years ago I was on the mining side of the Rare Earth business and these turbines were the biggest market. probably climbing prices promoted substitutes.

John harmsworth

One of the byproducts would be clean, cheap power for rich and poor alike, Griff. I know, horrible thought, isn’t it?


More question mark journalism


Just a side note and cause for a chuckle… I note that our “good friend” Dana Nuccitelli is employed by Tetra Tech. Will he be sent to Appalachia?

John Smith




“just about any other device that’s smarter than its user”. That’s an awful lot of devices.

John harmsworth

For Greens it’s a picket sign!


Won’t the big hurdle be approval for processing the REEs? Especially in the east, where your neighboring state might sue you for the pollution created from the manufacturing of products and energy that you are in turn selling to your neighboring state.

Other economical concentrations of REEs already exist and are already unearthed and are just sitting in tailing piles all over western North America. I find it much more likely that a REE refinery be built in a state like Nevada or Wyoming than in PA.

John Smith


The Mountain Pass mine in California is large and high-grade yet is currently mothballed … I have collected specimens from there that have clocked around 20%REE … that’s 200,000 ppm. Think about it and ask your congressman/woman why the US sources its REE from China.

Ian MacCulloch

Good one from Burban on the Rocks

Russell Klier

The coal has always contained trace quantities of rare earth elements…and the old Bureau of Mines worked on commercial extraction methods…It wasn’t economically feasible in the past….I doubt that today, with lots of foreign competitors it is more economically feasible than it was in the past. This is a dead issue. The science is settled………


Develop thorium nuclear power and solve the RE issue at the same time. But Middleton is a fossil fuel guy come hell or high water.

JJM Gommers

Purity of Sc is important, only very high 99,99% has value. I handled 4000 kg of scandium in the early nineteens.The origin as byproduct from uranium open pit mining in Kazachstan. It’s most used in space technology because of resistance to short wave length radiation.

Retired Kit P

“You literally couldn’t make that up if you tried.”

I was watching a news cast of a large transformer fire with a lime green fire truck in the foreground and the fire persons watching.

The BPA spokesperson, Crystal Ball (I kid you not), was explaining that there were no BCBs. Fluff your blond hair one more time for the camera.

People who do not like stero types should not reinforce.

PCB like DDT are not very toxic or other wise hazardous was used because it was very effective.

I would like to thank those with chemophobia for making my workplace and children’s school. Mineral oil and electrical shorts make for great fires.

Sorry for the off topic pet peeve. Up next is DOE thinking the invasive species tumble weed need to be planted for environmental restoration. There seems to be an affinity to safety related transformers.


One of the keys to assessing the prognosis of coal mines in the US, or in fact in any developed nation is this.
Are new coal plant/ mines being built and commissioned?

Personally, coming from a mining village in South Wales, I was deeply saddened to see 500 miners laid off in Kentucky just before Christmas .We experienced this many times over under Margaret Thatcher’s administration. Communities were devastated, towns and villages turned into welfare camps. The decision to close the mines was not wrong in principle, but the failure to invest in those communities after the closures was a disaster. Thatcher was right in that you cannot keep mining a mineral that you cannot sell and is part of the past. Keeping the mines open in the face of bad economics is never going to be a real solution. But failing to establish alternate industries and skills for those communities is an even worse disaster.
It would be good to see Trump learn from the economic tragedies of coal mining communities in the UK, and invest in these miners, even if their mines are no longer viable. If they are led to believe there is a golden future for coal which does not materialise, their anger and despair will be so much the worse for having no alternative.


Trump made a campaign issue out reviving the coal industry, and whether that was motivated by anything other than a cynical ploy to get votes I do not know. But knowing Trump I would be surprised if there were any other motivation. I have heard that coal mining becomes economical if the price of natural gas rises much further, but I don’t know what that price would be. Then you get into the environmental/CO2 issues.


Natural gas prices in the US are unlikely to drop very much in the future as several LNG lines are now in operation or starting up during 2018. This means that if the price drops exports will simply go up. The US became a net exporter of natural gas last year


“Trump made a campaign issue out reviving the coal industry, and whether that was motivated by anything other than a cynical ploy to get votes I do not know. But knowing Trump I would be surprised if there were any other motivation.”

You know Trump, do you? It doesn’t sound like you know him to me. It sounds like you are believing the lies told by Trump’s enemies.


“We experienced this many times over under Margaret Thatcher’s administration.”

Disingenuous – mendacious, in fact.

My not so distant ancestry would be English dockers and Welsh miners, who worked in the valleys as well as southern Africa. Hence it would be assumed that I must vehemently despise the Tories, especially Thatcher. People may be rather confused to discover that I, a classical liberal, was disgusted by all those self-righteous passive aggressive people cheering the death of a frail old lady. On a tour of a mine in South Wales, I wasn’t the only person who looked rather bored and unimpressed when the tour guide diverged into a tired old rant on the evil witch who ruined the mining industry; he didn’t back up his statements with facts, but rather he had actually clearly ignored them.

Of all the mines shut, an incredible two-thirds were shut during the rule of left-wing hero Wilson; hence most had been shut before Thatcher even became Prime Minister. In 1964, 545 mines where open, but Labour governments shut down 326 of them, more than half. When Thatcher took over, the pace of closures actually slowed, with only 6 closing in her first year as Prime Minister. Overall she only shut 154 mines over 11 years, while in just 4 years more Labour had shut more than double that number down.,51617

Patrick MJD

I was about to post something similar. I have had many a heated debate with Thatcher haters about coal mines and I am always shouted down when I say Wilson closed more mines than Thatcher ever did. But Gareth is right too, once the mines were closed there was nothing to back-fill.


You may be unsure of your history. Catweazle, it is you who are being mendacious, and in fact downright deceptive for political reasons.
You may vaguely recall the miners strike of the 80s which tried to keep mines open under the foolish leadership of both managers and union leaders. Why was this if so many mines had been closed before ? Did you think about that? I thought not. The reason is that mines that were previously closed were mines that had run out of coal to mine, had coal that was very difficult to extract or mines that were small or very uneconomic.
What your blessed Thatcher did was to close large modern mines that were in the main efficient, economic and in the main had large extractable reserves. So why did she do that? If Trump says this is a bad idea, why would she have thought is a good one?
It was because her government had been brought down by a previous miners strike and she was determined it would not happen again. Coal was also cheaper to import from Poland and other Eastern bloc countries.
The appalling effect on this action of the populations in those areas was seen as a worthwhile sacrifice which she was prepared to make to achieve her ends. The miners were dreadfully led by Scargill. and Nottinghamshire miners were fooled into supporting Thatcher, a mistake which they came to bitterly regret.
So your view of history is pretty dodgy. If you had written a submission on economic history as an undergraduate using your argument, you would have been lucky to get an F.
What you may like to consider, is why Thatcher, a traditional Conservative politician thought it an excellent idea to close coal mines as fast as possible, while Trump, as a another right wing politician, believes in re-opening them . You may then come to realise that it is not about coal, miners or employment. It is about politics, pure and simple.


Your stats sound somewhat dodgy Catweazle, so I’ve taken the opportunity to check your ‘facts’ As I mentioned, more mines were closed under Wilson than Thatcher, but does that tell the whole story? If one mine is closed that employs 50 people, and another is closed employing 2000, are those two closures comparable? So what does the evidence say.
Unsurprisingly, many people like yourself are being highly selective with the facts. The historical data shows that while 212,000 coal mining jobs were lost under the 1964-1970 Labour Government, under Mrs. Thatcher’s 1979-1990 government, the percentage decline in jobs was actually double that.
43 per cent of mining jobs went in the 1960s under Wilson while 80 per cent were lost under Thatcher. Also, as the trend rate of economic growth was lower under Thatcher than Wilson (just 2.8 per cent compared to 3.4 per cent) and unemployment was considerably higher throughout the 1980s than the 1960s, redundant miners had fewer alternative job options as a result of Mrs Thatcher’s stewardship of the industry. The effect of Thatchers closures was immeasurably worse than Wilson’s.

Still have the same beliefs Catweazle regarding the effect of mine closures on Communities?


I joined the National Coal Board in London as a Clerk Grade ii (the lowest level of entry) on 1st Jan. 1962 as a callow youth of 19. I left at 23 with two City & Guilds qualifications in “Solid Fuel: Production, Distribution & Utilisation” by going to evening school. To my knowledge, most of the pits were closed due to geological conditions or they were worked out. In the Durham pits (N E England) many coal seams were only 2 feet tall & were worked by hand in the dark with pick & shovel, by men lying on their sides. The work could not be mechanised to any meaningful degree. The pit at Craghead in County Durham closed in 1969. & my now deceased father in law then lost his livelihood. He had gone down the pit at 13 & came up at 43, when the pit was closed. I met him in 1983. I was 40 & he was 57. He had had to work for 10 years mending roads in all weathers, but then was doing odd jobs in at Phillips Electronics in Durham, (closed in 2005).

He barely survived a massive heart attack in 1987 & lingered 3 more years. By chance I found this video & I think it’s him at 1.06, arriving for work. His story was repeated all over the UK.


“Still have the same beliefs Catweazle regarding the effect of mine closures on Communities?”

Actually, as I spent most of the 1970s working in the Yorkshire coal mining areas, I know a great deal about effects of mine closures on the mining communities.

And I KNOW who caused the majority of the mine closures and the subsequent depopulation of the Pennine villages, so you can stick your hate-filled Commie mythological BS where the sun don’t shine.

There were more coal mining areas in Great Britain than the Welsh vallies, you [snip] Thatcher-hater.

Joke is, if you talked to a miner about his children’s prospects in the late 1960s, he’s say something like “our lad’s going to get an education, no way he’s going down t’pit” and ten years later, the same people were saying “where are our kids going to get jobs now t’pits have shut”.

[Let’s keep it civil please…and that means no name calling. -mod]


“What your blessed Thatcher did was to close large modern mines that were in the main efficient, economic and in the main had large extractable reserves”

The reason those surviving, efficient pits had to be closed was your great hero Crazy Arthur Scargill and his prevention of the maintenance crews accessing the pits, so the pumps failed, the pits filled with water and the machinery was all rendered unserviceable beyond recovery.

But you’re too blinded by your hatred of all things not Hard Left ever to admit something like that.


“It is about politics, pure and simple.”

To you as a Hard Lefty that may be the case.

But to almost everyone else it’s about economics – something about which you have no idea whatsoever.

Leo Smith

we experiencd it even more during Harold Wilson’s reign, but no one wrote it up.


I joined the National Coal Board in London as a Clerk Grade ii (the lowest level of entry) on 1st Jan. 1962 as a callow youth of 19. I left at 23 with two City & Guilds qualifications in “Solid Fuel: Production, Distribution & Utilisation” by going to evening school. To my knowledge, most of the pits were closed due to geological conditions or they were worked out. In the Durham pits (N E England) many coal seams were only 2 feet tall & were worked by hand in the dark with pick & shovel, by men lying on their sides. The work could not be mechanised to any meaningful degree. The pit at Craghead in County Durham closed in 1969. & my now deceased father in law then lost his livelihood. He had gone down the pit at 13 & came up at 43, when the pit was closed. I met him in 1983. I was 40 & he was 57. He had had to work for 10 years mending roads in all weathers, but then was doing odd jobs in at Phillips Electronics in Durham, (closed in 2005).

He barely survived a massive heart attack in 1987 & lingered 3 more years. By chance I found this video & I think it’s him at 1.06, arriving for work. His story was repeated all over the UK.


Ironically, the Minister of Energy (or whatever it was called) who presided over the closure of the majority of the mines was no less than the great Left wing hero Comrade Viscount Sir Anthony “call me Tony” Wedgwood-Benn Bart. who was simultaneously licensing a large increase in nuclear generation.

Inconvenient for the Left, that.


Coal mines are NOT being developed in Europe – except some opencast ones…

The last deep mined coal in UK I believe has closed; last deep mined coal in Germany closes this year.

(visiting the S Wales towns where my grandparents lived is very sad: compared to the bustling places they were in the 1960s. On the other hand, mining was a horrible job… my great uncle was killed in a mine explosion; another great uncle started work at 14…)


It was indeed a dreadful job Griff. When people tell me how much they hate wind turbines, I always point out that I have never seen them lead to the early deaths of tens of thousands of men, or having slid down their mountains to kill hundreds of children at school. You can only really love the coal mining industry , coal tips and polluted rivers if you don’t actually live in the areas where it happens.


There is this odd cognitive dissonance regarding Conservative attitudes to coal mining and miners. Traditional right wing Tories in the UK hated miners and the mining industry due to it’s long history of left wing activity and social initiatives. But they now support Trump and his efforts to re-open coal mines and re-employ miners. They are between a rock and a hard place. What’s a traditional Tory to do these days in the face of such conflicting loyalties? As usual, it is the poor miners who will suffer as pawns in a political game.


“Traditional right wing Tories in the UK hated miners and the mining industry…”

You haven’t a clue.

The Right wing didn’t hate the miners or even the Left, the Left had – still have, come to that – more than enough hatred to go round.

Which is why when Margaret Thatcher died there was an enormous hatefest involving street parties and all the usual Lefty activities such as breaking things and setting fire to cars, whereas when the great Lefty icon Benn – who observed that the day the USSR collapsed was the worst day of his life – died, even the Right wing treated his demise with the respect due to a man of his stature, despite the fact he had effectively damaged the mining industry far more than Margaret Thatcher ever did.

Patrick MJD

“Griff January 16, 2018 at 3:35 am”

Griff, a product of coal mining and a coal mining family, living the benefits that industry brought, now wants to deprive the poor of the world the same. That’s not nice Griff.


Aren’t there much higher concentrations in association with radioactives like uranium and thorium? I had gathered that China’s advantage, such as it was, was that they had fairly generous deposits that were not associated with radioactive metals.

Also, looks like we never had rare earth metal !!!!DOMINANCE!!!!. Weird.

Karl Rudisill

The process is pretty straight forward for recovering REE. Its not only in Pennsylvania but you should see what were putting together in Utah around the same and revitalizing the coal industry!!!


Another nail in the reputation coffin of Paul Ehrlich, the misanthrope.

Potentially good news. Interesting to see how that pans out.

Pop Piasa

Tasty pun on the title. It took a bit to soak in, I tend towards Aspergers.

Pop Piasa

I always thought coal would be the next diamonds instead of gold (nyuk-nyuk), but you can make diamonds. You have to find gold.

Gunga Din

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” 😎

Burn the coal, mine the ash.

(I thought the Enviros liked recycling?)

Pop Piasa

Perhaps with fluidised-bed technology we can also burn trash and mine the ash.

Pop Piasa

All we have to do is realize that increasing trace CO2 in the air is more beneficial than it is harmful, and we are doing ourselves a favor, despite the politically-correct consensus view of a Venusian future wrought by the greed of Humanity.

Ian MacCulloch

Analysing for metals both base and precious and REE’s in host materials with high organic backgrounds is notoriously difficult. Results are often considered unreliable to say the least. In 2004 the Indiana Geological Survey produced a report (Open-File Study 04-02) showing gold content in the Illinois Basin coal beds ranging from 1.28 ppm gold (Colchester) to 0.37 ppm (Staunton) for an average of all coal beds of 0.74 ppm gold. However, the highest average was from the Illinois Basin coals from Illinois of 1.2 ppm of gold (USGS-Coal Qual database). Now these are serious grades with serious open cuttable tonnages. The average grade is well above the 0.4 ppm gold that is common in billion tonne mines these days. No gold industry in the Illinois Basin. Nor none planned. With that amount of gold going through the power stations each year one would think the insides of the chimney stacks would be dripping with gold and pulled down on a regular basis. Having been on the wrong end of carbon enhanced assays in my time I would take all coal based analytical reports with a grain of carbon(salt).

Patrick MJD

More badness for Australian coal seam gas work.

“Dr McCarron said it was not possible to break down hospital admissions by age, gender and dates.

“Factors for which data are unavailable are the change, if any, in the population rates of cigarette smoking and obesity, and the prior health status of residents who may have moved into (and out of) the area between 2007 and 2014,” she wrote.”

So the cause has to be coal seam gas extraction.


ah REEs. Nice. I did my PhD on that topic. As many commenters have pointed out, it’s just not going to happen any time soon. The person going around and trying to get peoples hopes up that coal mines will make additional revenue from REEs is at best wasting everyone’s time and at worst a scam.



and power stations and mines are still closing in the US


which threatens also coal mine in the state

Peter Sable

The REEs from the environmentalists will be very loud – and entertaining for those into that kind of thing.

Love coal or hate coal, the US has the largest coal reserves on earth. We just cannot ignore coal.