UND researchers hit milestone in rare-earth minerals production

Efforts by UND researchers to transform the state into a hub to produce rare earth elements (REEs) and critical minerals (CMs) continue to move forward, and the pilot production facility, located off Mill Road in Grand Forks, has begun to produce concentrated mixtures of the compounds.

This most recent development comes on the heels of a high-level visit of federal energy leaders. The delegation came to North Dakota in mid-October to tour the facility and a lignite coal mine near Underwood, N.D. The visitors included members of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and leaders from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains and Office of International Affairs.

The visit was significant because it allowed the federal decision makers to get a first-hand look at UND’s pilot extraction facility, said Nolan Theaker, senior research manager with the Research Institute at the UND College of Engineering & Mines.

“This event was the highest number and highest rank of DOE representatives to date who have visited campus for this project, and they represent some of the key decision makers at DOE for making a commercial project a reality,” he said.