Omnis to invest $60 million to extract rare earth metals

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Omnis to invest $60 million to extract rare earth metals
Coal waste impoundments in southwestern West Virginia contain billions of dollars of rare earth elements. (Photo courtesy Google)

MULLENS, W.Va. — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has announced that Omnis Sublimation Recovery Technologies will invest $60 million in Wyoming County and use revolutionary technology to extract rare earth metals from coal waste impoundments in the region.

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Coal waste impoundments have created an opportunity for innovation, Justice said during a meeting in the coalfields of the southwestern state. Converting the material into high-value metals can turn impoundments into assets to help grow the local economy.

“I am beyond excited to welcome this company to southern West Virginia,” Justice said.

“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.”

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This revolutionary technology will be showcased in southwestern West Virginia and used to supply the rare earth metals needed to manufacture smartphones, computers, high-performance electronic devices, and new high-performance building materials.

Michelle Christian, Omni's vice president of Global Sustainability and Innovation, said the process will have no negative environmental impact.

"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," Christian said.

"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."

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Omni has begun engineering and will immediately start site infrastructure. The building and equipment are expected to be completed and installed by mid-2023, Christian said.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito said she's enthused to hear about coal investment in the region.

“I am always happy to see growth happening in southern West Virginia, and knowing that coal is central to this type of potential economic impact makes this announcement even more exciting," Capito said.

"The jobs to be created with this partnership will bring even more opportunity to this region and help lead the way for future development.”

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Senator Joe Manchin, chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the proposal fits with his national energy-independence model.

“I’m pleased with the progress being made to source rare earth elements right here in West Virginia, providing energy and an independent supply chain for the entire United States just as we have done for centuries," Manchin said.

Mitch Carmichael, secretary of the W.Va. Department of Economic Development, said his team has been working closely with Omni, providing financial incentives and helping to navigate the permitting process.

“We are ecstatic about this announcement,” Carmichael said.

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“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.”

Omni will hire 100 team members with well-paying jobs and train them to operate this technology in a safe, clean environment, Carmichael said.

Congresswoman Carol Miller says she's happy about the impact the investment will have a local business.

“Southern West Virginia is rich in natural resources, including rare earth minerals,” Miller said.

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“I’m pleased to see Omnis Sublimation Recovery Technologies partner with local businesses to tap into these resources and invest in Wyoming County. Their technology to convert coal waste impoundments into strategic metals exemplifies the power of innovation.

"This $60 million investment is a testament to the work that’s been done at the local, state, and federal levels to revitalize the Mountain State and let people know that it is open for business.”

Omnis officials say that coal waste impoundments and gob piles are rich in critical metals, including strategic and rare earth metals. Millions of tons of these metals are concentrated from the natural coal seam sources.

According to Omnis officials, coal mining has concentrated these minerals and is available in many waste impoundments. These critical metals are essential to building smartphones, computers, and other high-value electronics.

Christy Laxton, executive director of the Wyoming County Economic Development Authority, says she's enthused to welcome 100 new jobs to the county.

“We’re excited to welcome a company like Omnis to Wyoming County, and we look forward to a long-lasting relationship between the company and community. Omnis will provide a strategic asset to Wyoming County that will grow the economy with 100 jobs and provide the opportunity for additional surrounding business growth,” Laxton said.

“We’re grateful for the strong partnerships between our economic development authority, the W.Va. Department of Economic Development, and the Governor’s Office, that make doing business in West Virginia possible for companies like Omnis.”

Omni’s technology can extract pure metals from coal impoundment mineral waste using Ultra-High Heat without acids or harmful chemicals. The technology recovers 100 percent of the metals, including all critical, strategic, and rare earth metals, with zero waste and no harmful emissions.

This is the second investment announcement by the Omnis companies in West Virginia this year.

In March, Gov. Justice announced that Omnis Building Technologies will build a $40 million, 150,000-square-foot facility in Bluefield to manufacture housing materials that will revolutionize the future of residential construction, creating 150-300 jobs in the process.

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