SaskPower Hopes Coal Miners Never See This
Could this save coal in Saskatchewan?
The report "Rare Earth Element Abundances in Coal Combustion Byproducts of Saskatchewan" was published on February 9th, 2023 by a team of researchers from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources and the Saskatchewan Geological Survey. The team, led by Brendan A. Bishop, analyzed several coal combustion byproducts (CBBs) from the Boundary Dam, Poplar River, and Shand power plants in southern Saskatchewan to assess the potential for Rare Earth Elements (REE) in these byproducts.
The process involved the searchers using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to analyze coal fly ash and bottom ash samples from each of the power plants and identified 16 different rare earth elements in the samples.
The report’s findings suggest that REEs are present in varying concentrations in CCBs from all three power plants, including cerium, lanthanum, and neodymium, which could potentially be economically viable for extraction. The report finds that the recovery of REEs from CCBs in Saskatchewan could provide an alternative source of these critical elements, reducing the dependence on imports from countries like China.
The study highlights the importance of investigating alternative sources of REEs as global demand increases, and the potential for REE extraction from CCBs in Saskatchewan is a promising avenue that warrants further research and development.
If the extraction of rare earth elements (REEs) from coal combustion byproducts (CCBs) in at Boundary Dam, Shand and Poplar River is found to be economically viable, it could provide new job and economic development opportunities in the REE industry In Estevan and Coronach. This would obviously increase demand for coal combustion byproducts and thus increase the value of coal-fired power generation.
This could potentially help to sustain the coal mining industry in the province and provide job security for our coal miners. However, the report also notes that further research and development is necessary to determine the economic feasibility of REE extraction from CCBs in Saskatchewan.
Will SaskPower and the provincial government step up to the plate?
Click here to read the full report Sask Coal Transition Centre