In a move met by applause from at least one congressman, the Energy Department announced a pilot program for research into domestic mining of rare earth elements.
Rare earth elements are a series of seemingly obscure elements on the Periodic Table that are crucial for production of electronics, military equipment and some medications.
According to Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), 100 percent of America’s supply of these elements comes from China.
China supplies 85 percent of the world’s overall production, according to the congressman.
The elements – which include Yttrium, Scandium, Neodymium and Cerium – can be extracted in a variety of ways, including in the aftermath of coal mining.
The Energy Department said it will invest nearly $7 million into researching ways to mine and produce these elements in the United States.
Barletta said one of the sites the grant will fund is on the site of the Jeddo coal operation in Hazleton, Pa., near Tamaqua.
“Studies have shown that the Appalachian coal fields throughout northeastern Pennsylvania contain some of the highest concentrations of rare earth elements,” Barletta said in a press release.
He said it was a matter of national security that the U.S. be able to mine its own rare earth elements so that sectors like the military and healthcare do not need to depend on China.
Other areas targeted by the Energy Department for the program include Albany, Ga., Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Bluefield, Va., on the West Virginia border.
Earlier this month, President Trump celebrated the opening of the first American coal mine in recent times..
Watch the clip above to find out more about the administration’s plans for mining.