Missouri is a top ten state for mining, according to a team of researchers at Missouri S&T. The state generates about $3.2 billion in revenue yearly through mining activities with hopes to make that grow exponentially through mining for critical minerals.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has awarded Marek Locmelis, an associate professor of geosciences and geological and petroleum engineering and faculty fellow in research and innovation, $485,000 to help him find the best places for mining those commodities. Critical minerals are used in the defense sectors for semiconductors, renewable energy, and the oil and gas industry.

“We’re trying to open up new exploration space for critical minerals in Missouri to basically bring supply chains completely back to the United States and generate jobs in the state of Missouri,” he said.

He is working to help bolster the U.S. supply chain and said that the key is understanding Missouri’s geologic evolution.

“This is an area that is called mineral exploration,” he explained. “It’s very hard. Mineral exploration is not necessarily trying to find the deposits, but it’s a search space reduction exercise. So, we’re going to be starting with the entire state of Missouri. Then, we’re trying to identify areas that, based on geologic characteristics are more likely to obtain ore deposits than others.”

The Energy Act of 2020 defines critical minerals as non-fuel minerals vital to the country’s economic or national security. They’re widely used in modern-day technology.

“We’re trying to identify the areas that are most likely to contain ore deposits and what we’re seeing in our favor is that Missouri, when it comes to mining, is probably one of the best kept secrets that we have right now in the United States because we have almost a 300-year-long history of mining,” he said.

Once the study is complete, the information will be provided to the Department of Natural Resources where mining companies could then use the information to consider future sites.

Missouri’s 2024 budget provided $16 million for the Missouri Department of Economic Development to support S&T’s critical minerals work.

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