Frac Sand and Rare Earth Minerals
Senate Appropriations Committee members heard an update this week from Lynn Helms, Director of the Department of Mineral Resources, related to research by state geologists that has let to the start of frac sand mining operations, and the possibility of mining lignite for rare earth minerals.
Helms said rare earth minerals are the elements used in computers, LED televisions, and defense applications.
"Most everything today, in terms of electronics uses some level of rare earth minerals," he said, noting that currently 95% of the world's supply comes from China.
Helms said that 12 samples from four different locations are well above the DOE's economic threshold for the potential of mining rare earth minerals. He said the outlook in North Dakota for capturing the elemental material from lignite seams, as well as fly ash from lignite combustion, is "very exciting."