Aaron Noble, assistant professor of mining engineering at West Virginia University, has been named a Henry Krumb Lecturer for 2016-17 by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration. Noble was one of only 10 selected for the honor from the more than 750 professionals who presented technical papers at the SME Annual Conference and Expo.
A supply of sustainably sourced rare earth elements is critical for several high-tech industries, renewable energy technologies and defense applications. Recent studies have shown that REEs exist in coal and coal combustion byproducts at elevated concentrations and in quantities that could meet domestic demand. However, declines in rare earth prices, volatile commodity markets and challenging geo-metallurgical conditions have jeopardized this potentially valuable REE resource.
Noble’s presentation, “Micro-Pricing: The Value of Trace Rare Earth Elements in Coal and Coal Byproducts,” looks at the use of micro-pricing principles to develop a rigorous economic model for assessing the inherent value of REEs in coal materials.
“The Henry Krumb Lecture series gives me the opportunity to share my research with some of the local SME members who may not necessarily attend the larger annual meetings,” Noble said. “I am very honored to receive this designation, especially since my particular topic may be of great interest to those in the Appalachian coal fields.”
Noble received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in mining engineering from Virginia Tech. His research focuses on the analysis of mineral processing systems and particulate separation technologies and he holds two patents for energy efficient equipment designs. He has developed several software packages that are currently used by various mineral-industry leaders.
He is one of the inaugural recipients of the SME Freeport-McMoRan Career Development Grant, and in 2015, he was awarded the SME Coal and Energy Division Stefanko best paper award.
In February 2017, Noble will receive the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers Rossiter W. Raymond Memorial Award. The award was established in 1945 in honor of one of the Institute’s founders and honorary members. It recognizes the best paper published by AIME societies’ members where the lead author is under 35 years of age.