(KXNET) — On Wednesday, state lawmakers approved a plan to look for rare earth elements in coal in North Dakota.

House Bill 1511 provides a tax exemption for companies to build a coal processing center.

The bill gives a break to companies from paying a severance tax from the first one million tons of coal mined.

Supporters of the plan say the production will help the US compete with China.

“North Dakota is uniquely positioned to provide for our national defense efforts,” said Senator Jeff Magrum, “including high-tech components, satellite communications, guidance systems, aircraft structures, and smart weaponry.”

Some of the rare elements here in ND include scandium and yttrium, which are used to create stronger metal alloys.

Supporters say that any mined elements must be processed on-site at any of North Dakota’s active coal mines.