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Georgia Essential Minerals (GEMs) Workshop Unites Government, Industry and Academia

Alan Flurry

The University of Georgia, together with Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, and the Georgia Mining Association, will host the inaugural workshop for partnerships to develop essential critical minerals on Thursday February 1, 2024, at the Georgia Center Hotel and Conference Center. The event brings together 45 participants from government, industry, and academia to discuss opportunities around critical mineral supplies in Georgia and in the nation.  

The GEMS workshop is co-funded by Georgia’s three R-1 universities with the intent of better understanding challenges for Rare Earth Element resource exploration from existing Georgia mining operations. At the forefront will be issues such as resource estimating, sustainable energy and environmentally friendly mining, regulatory compliance, workforce training, national security, and economic development. 

“Mine tailings are one example of an issue that has long been viewed as waste associated with environmental harm," said Paul Schroeder, UGA professor of geology and one of the conveners of the workshop. "With new extraction technologies and environmental stewardship, we can explore these deposits as repositories of a new supply of critical minerals."  

A key co-organizer, the Georgia Mining Association includes stakeholders from many industries. Other stakeholders participating include State and Federal agencies, as well as students from the UGA, Georgia State University, and Georgia Tech research triangle. The goal of the workshop is to produce a statement regarding current state of knowledge and pathways for GEMs. This workshop is also designed to be model for ways to create university-industry-government partnerships, grants, internships, sponsored research, and to create the next generation for helping to supply reliable domestic supplies of critical minerals. 

"Such comprehensive strategies are critical in helping Georgia's growing economy, train future workforces, and ensure national security for critical minerals," Schroeder said.

Georgia leads in the production of fuller's earth, kaolin, and iron oxide pigments. It is a major producer of barite, dimension stone, and feldspar. It produces cement, common clay, construction sand and gravel, crushed stone, gemstones, and mica.


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