Unearthing the legacy of West Virginia: Company plans to make billions off of coal waste

Collections of rare earth materials
Collections of rare earth materials(WVVA)
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:09 PM EST
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WYOMING COUNTY, W.Va. (WVVA) - Out of the 46 rare earth materials needed to make an iPhone, only six are found in the United States. The other 40 are found in China.

Simon Hodges, President of Omnis Sublimation Recovery Technologies (OSRT), says his company has spent years doing research, and, recently, they discovered something exciting.

Hodges joined Gov. Jim Justice and others at the Mullens Council on Aging Thursday to share the news:

“Where are these fabulous, special materials that we can’t find anywhere?” They’re here in the State of West Virginia.”

More specifically, they’re in coal waste. Omnis discovered that coal impoundments house all 46 of these desired metals.

“We have uncovered the legacy and the rich treasure that your grandparents and your great-grandparents laid aside for you,” Hodges said. “They took out the coal, and they’ve deposited these treasures that are worth hundreds of times more, not just in monetary value but also in social value...”

Hodges explained that where one ton of coal sells for only a few hundred dollars, one ton of these rare earth materials can sell for millions. Omnis shared on Thursday that it plans to invest $60 million in Wyoming County. The company is working to construct a processing plant where they will extract these materials using Ultra-High Heat without acids or harmful chemicals. This makes them the first to create a zero-waste method for extraction.

During the announcement, Gov. Justice expressed his support.

“If this man [Hodges] has the answer, he has the answer on something that would absolutely revolutionize the entire world, and it would put it right at our doorstep. Right here.”

And, of course, there are the residents of Wyoming County who say they couldn’t be more excited for the jobs and revenue this initiative is expected to create.

“All of this is bringing jobs here to keep our kids here,” said Christy Laxton, Executive Director of the Wyoming County Economic Development Authority (EDA). “...we can partner with the career and technology center, with the local colleges and have training for these jobs, and, so, we are just excited to have the company here, to have everybody come together and have this great opportunity for our community.”

Omnis plans to begin construction on the Wyoming County facility immediately, which is said to be opening in the Spring of 2023. They also plan to bring on an initial 100 jobs.

This is Omnis’ second investment announcement in the Mountain State. In March, Gov. Justice announced that the company was building a $40 million facility in Bluefield. The 150,000-square-foot space was marked to manufacture housing materials that would “revolutionize the future of residential construction.”

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