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Major discovery in our backyard a big win for U.S.

Eureka — a statement made upon a triumphant and sudden discovery — was associated with the gold rush of the mid-1800s.

An early gold mining settlement in Nevada County, California, in 1850 took the name and quickly became a town of considerable importance, attracting prospectors not just for gold but also quartz, according to the website westernmininghistory.com.

Leap ahead to today and consider the story of a business headquartered here in Williamsport, Eureka Resources, which is having its own eureka moment.

Long involved in treating wastewater used in hydraulic fracturing, the company more recently came upon a technique that is allowing it to extract lithium, a rare-earth mineral, from that wastewater, and it is doing so at its plant in Bradford County. The technique was developed by MGX Minerals and their subsidiary PurLucid Treatment Systems in Canada and has entered into a joint operating agreement with Eureka.

This represents a huge win not just for the region, but for America.

Don’t believe it? Consider the fact that lithium is used in batteries for electric cars, smartphones, equipment used by soldiers on the battlefield, just to name a few uses.

Consider that the United States depends on China for much of its rare-earth minerals and imports about 80 percent of what it needs. Consider that in May, China threatened to stop supplying the United States as part of a U.S.-China trade war.

Consider that our nation could suffer dire technological consequences without its own source of rare-earth minerals.

And consider the value of the global rare-earth market. The expectation is for it to increase from $8.1 billion last year to more than $14.4 billion by 2025.

There could be a substantial economic impact for this region from Eureka’s newly patented process. To make it happen, the company recently was awarded a state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Projects grant of $1.5 million to partially finance its expansion.

The expansion is expected to increase domestic lithium production by 50 percent, according to Penn Strategies Inc., the city’s economic development strategist.

This is exciting news, and we can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Congratulations to the local company and the moment it is having — Eureka!

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