Securing a Domestic Supply Chain for Critical Minerals
Critical minerals, with applications including healthcare, defense systems, and renewable energy technology, are essential to our modern way of life. China has dominated the critical minerals market for years, controlling the vast majority of the global supply. Currently, 14 of the 35 critical minerals identified by the USGS are imported to the United States (U.S.) at a rate of 100%. Ensuring a stable supply of critical minerals for electric car batteries, smartphones, healthcare equipment, and a range of other technologies and products, begins with encouraging responsible critical minerals development, production, and innovation here at home.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) introduced the American Critical Mineral Exploration and Innovation Act of 2020, co-sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT), House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on foreign sources of critical minerals by supporting responsible domestic mineral development.
The U.S. Department of Energy is making investments that will support a an extensive, secure, and domestic supply of critical minerals:
DOE Awards $20 Million for Research on Rare Earth Elements
Basic Science Aims to Ensure Availability of Materials for Essential Technologies
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will announce $20 million for basic research aimed at ensuring a stable U.S. supply of rare earth elements, which are critical for a wide range of technologies and essential to the energy, economic, and national security of the United States.
“Rare earth elements play an indispensable role in materials needed for today’s advanced technologies and are essential to a functioning American economy,” said Dr. Chris Fall, Director of DOE’s Office of Science. “This fundamental research is aimed at both improving current availability and supply of these elements and finding promising alternative materials.”
The research will focus on improving the efficiency of both the use of the elements and their extraction from geological and recycled sources. It will also seek to reduce the reliance on rare earth elements by discovering substitute materials with similar or even enhanced properties.
The effort is closely aligned with the “Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals” issued by the Department of Commerce in 2019, which calls on the nation to “advance transformational research, development, and deployment across the critical mineral supply chain.”
The research will be led by five DOE national laboratory teams, chosen by competitive peer review under the DOE Laboratory Announcement, “Materials and Chemical Science Research on Critical Materials,” sponsored by the Office of Basic Energy Science (BES) within DOE’s Office of Science. Teams include researchers from both DOE laboratories and universities.
Total planned funding for the five awards will be $20 million over three years, with up to $6.7 million in Fiscal Year 2020 dollars and outyear funding contingent on Congressional appropriations.
A list of teams and project titles can be found on the BES homepage under the heading, “What’s New.”