True pigments overview

It’s a familiar sight in Central Appalachia — streams that run orange, tainted by pollution from historic coal mining. At first glance, it’s almost pretty. Until you realize the iron oxide and high acidity are choking off aquatic life and tainting local watersheds.

In Truetown, home of the largest acid mine drainage (AMD) in Ohio, 1,000 gallons per minute gushes out of an abandoned mine, dumping  2.2 million pounds of iron into Sunday Creek each year. True Pigments is turning this pollution into a valuable commodity that will pay for stream restoration, create jobs in rural communities, and fund additional watershed restorations.

About us

Our proprietary technology cleans streams by turning pollution into vibrant pigments for paint and other products. Our goal is to bring life back to these tainted streams while making the U.S. iron pigment supply chain more sustainable. Our technology and process can curb carbon emissions by creating a source of domestic iron oxide pigment production, decreasing the amount of iron needing to be mined or created through synthetic processes around the world. True Pigments was founded as a social enterprise of Rural Action in 2019 after years of research and collaboration with Ohio University and other public institutions.

Our Market

The United States iron oxide pigments industry is valued at $335 million, and the United States uses about 240,000 tons of pigment each year, much of it imported from China. With our first plant, we will produce 1% of that consumption with a natural, sustainable process. Within three years, we anticipate being engaged in a region-wide marketing campaign to replace imported, mined iron oxide pigment with our U.S. produced pigments for the paint, concrete, and construction industries. 

our technology

Other companies use passive systems such as settling ponds to precipitate iron out of mine water, then harvest the iron oxide. Our patent-pending technology is much different, operating more like a wastewater treatment system than a traditional AMD treatment system. We can harvest large amounts of iron and treat large amounts of water with relatively small space requirements when compared with passive systems.

Looking ahead

In three years, the True Pigments facility at Truetown will be operational and cash-flow positive. We plan to employ at least five people with living wages and full benefits. Then we will identify similar discharges and do it again. And again. And again.

Contact us

Journalists, investors, and potential partners can call us at 740-767-4938 or email True Pigments Director of Project Development Michelle Shively at


Members of the media seeking more information about True Pigments should contact Michelle Shively, director of project development, at

Learn More

Find out more about True Pigments mission and impact by clicking the link below.

About Us