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Paving the way for Partnerships for Essential Minerals

Alan Flurry

UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University and the Georgia Mining Association kicked off February with the first of what promises to be a long-standing workshop to develop essential, critical mineral resources in Georgia. The Georgia Essential Minerals (GEMs) workshop at UGA featured geology faculty experts and stakeholders from across government and industry:

Demand for critical minerals and rare earth elements is rapidly increasing as the world accelerates toward clean energy transitions. Concerns about price volatility, supply security, and geopolitics arise as reducing emissions and ensuring resilient and secure energy systems become increasingly crucial.  

To address this important area, 45 participants from academia, government, industry, and national labs gathered at the University of Georgia for the inaugural Georgia partnerships for Essential Minerals (GEMs) Workshop. The workshop was the first in a series of critical mineral conversations planned by the collaborators of the workshop. The first GEMs Workshop focused on the critical mineral potential in Georgia’s kaolin mining industry.  

Key workshop conveners included W. Crawford Elliott, associate professor of chemistry and geosciences at Georgia State University; Lee R. Lemke, secretary and executive vice president of the Georgia Mining Association; Paul A. Schroeder, professor in clay minerology at the University of Georgia; and Yuanzhi Tang, associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech. 


Representatives from more than 20 companies, the Environmental Protection AgencyU.S. Geological SurveyGeorgia Environmental Protection Division, and Savannah River National Laboratory, as well as faculty members and students from Georgia’s three R1 universities participated in the day-long workshop. Speaker sessions and panel discussions addressed: 

  • Developing a state and regional ecosystem demonstrating a critical mineral supply chain from resources to solutions to end users. 
  • A strong emphasis on workforce training for this emerging industry.  
  • Establishing a regional critical mineral consortium to facilitate resource exploration, characterization, processing, and utilization.
  • Creating official industry-university collaborations that included internships, field trips, curricular training, R&D collaboration, and stakeholder liaisons. 

Workshop organizers plan to reconvene in six months to continue conversations and build momentum on critical minerals research, from supplies to workforce training and beyond. 


Image courtesy of participants and the UGA department of geology

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