Missouri S&T awarded EPA’s pollution prevention grant for miners

press release

November 7, 2023

ROLLA, Mo. – A Missouri University of Science and Technology research team has been awarded a Pollution Prevention grant for over $850,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to focus on pollution and waste related to the mining of critical minerals in Missouri and Alaska.

“The United States is facing a critical minerals crisis, and Missouri S&T is uniquely positioned to help with this issue from multiple angles,” said Dr. Guang Xu, an S&T associate professor of mining engineering and principal investigator of the project. “My team’s work will focus on how the mining industry can use environmentally friendly methods for mining critical minerals.”

The Energy Act of 2020 defines critical minerals as nonfuel minerals vital to the nation’s economic or national security.

For this two-year project, Xu and his team will provide mining professionals with technical assistance and training to lower pollution levels associated with mining and mine waste.

The S&T team, along with researchers from University of Alaska Fairbanks, will provide on-site assistance at mine operations in their states, as well as training materials and multiple workshops and case studies that will be presented as part of industry conferences.

“We will teach and reinforce the best practices to prevent and monitor pollution caused from mine dust,” said Xu. “This initiative will cover cost-effective prevention methods, such as the use of water and dust suppression filtration techniques.

“There will also be a focus on how to treat the tailings left over from mining heavy metals that have chemicals that could potentially be health hazards.”

Xu said there will also be an environmental justice component to the project, as many of the mines his team is working with are in low-income areas.

Missouri S&T has been one of the nation’s leaders in the field of mineral recovery for over 150 years. Last month, S&T was named one of the country’s 31 Tech Hubs for its work focused on critical minerals and materials used for battery technology.

S&T is also budgeted to receive $16 million in state funding through the Missouri Department of Economic Development for the 2024 fiscal year to support critical minerals research.

Co-principal investigators for the P2 grant project include Dr. Kwame Awuah-Offei, S&T’s Union Pacific/Rocky Mountain Energy professor and chair of mining and explosives engineering; and Dr. Michael Moats, chair and professor of materials science and engineering.

For more information about S&T’s mining and explosives engineering programs, visit mee.mst.edu.
Photo is of Dr. Guang Xu testing ventilation in Missouri S&T’s experimental mine. Photo by Tom Wagner/Missouri S&T.

About Missouri University of Science and Technology
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit www.mst.edu.


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