Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mining Engineering (MSMIE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Mining Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Joshua Werner


The US Department of Energy in 2010 has identified several rare earth elements as critical materials to enable clean technologies. As part of ongoing research in REEs (rare earth elements) recovery from coal sources, the University of Kentucky has designed, developed and is demonstrating a ¼ ton/hour pilot-scale processing plant to produce high-grade REEs from coal sources. Due to the need to control critical variables (e.g. pH, tank level, etc.), process control is required. To ensure adequate process control, a study was conducted on leaching and solvent extraction control to evaluate the potential of achieving low-cost REE recovery in addition to developing a process control PLC system. The overall operational design and utilization of Six Sigma methodologies is discussed. Further, the application of the controls design, both procedural and electronic for the control of process variables such as pH is discussed. Variations in output parameters were quantified as a function of time. Data trends show that the mean process variable was maintained within prescribed limits. Future work for the utilization of data analysis and integration for data-based decision-making will be discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)