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Is coal ash an undiscovered resource?
Excavating every coal ash dump in North Carolina could cost up to $10 billion, according to estimates by the N.C. Utilities Commission, but it’s possible the coal ash itself could foot part of the bill.
While state lawmakers and environmental authorities are fixated on coal ash as a hazard, some are beginning to think of the waste as a resource. Rare earth elements – key ingredients of technologies like smart phones, electric car batteries and bulletproof glass – are found in abundance in coal ash and could be mined for profit, according to Duke University researchers.