North Dakota is one of the country’s top 10 coal-producing states. Approximately 30 million tons of lignite is mined regionally each year. Our lignite reserves contain an 800-year supply of economically recoverable coal at current usage. This coal is primarily used to generate electricity at seven coal-based power plants. However, there are other uses for lignite as well.
The Great Plains Synfuels Plant, for instance, turns lignite into synthetic natural gas, fertilizers and several chemicals. The CO2 from the plants is also used for enhanced oil recovery in partially depleted oil fields in Canada.
Power plants also sell fly ash for a replacement for Portland cement and bottom ash for abrasives.
This graphic shows 10 of the current uses for lignite in North Dakota.
These are by no means all of them. In the future, there can be other uses for lignite as R&D breakthroughs lead to other uses such as Rare Earth Elements, greenhouses and synthetic graphite, to name a few.