WASHINGTON, D.C. — In support of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $30 million to help lower the costs of the onshore production of rare earths and other critical minerals and materials from domestic coal-based resources. The funding, provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help meet the growing demand for critical minerals in the United States, while reducing our reliance on offshore supplies. Rare earths and other critical minerals are key to U.S. manufacturing of clean energy technologies—such as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cells—to advance President Biden’s historic climate agenda. Extracting these materials from coal, coal waste, and associated by-products also creates good-paying jobs in communities that have historically produced fuels and electric power from fossil energy resources, supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to revitalize energy communities and ensure stronger access to benefits through the Justice40 Initiative.
“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is helping rebuild America’s manufacturing sector by enhancing our ability to produce the critical minerals necessary to develop clean energy technologies,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to these transformative investments, we are reducing our reliance on foreign supply chains while delivering high-quality jobs throughout the communities that have helped power the nation for generations.”
Advanced Processing of Critical Minerals and Materials for Industrial and Manufacturing Applications Funding Announcement
According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Mineral Information Center, the United States imports over 80% of its rare earth demand from non-domestic suppliers. But rare earth elements occur naturally all around us, including in our domestic coal and coal wastes. The funding opportunity announcement released today is seeking to tap this unconventional resource to help build a domestic supply chain critical to the U.S. economy, clean energy, and national security. The program will fund research for laboratory and bench-scale testing of economically viable, environmentally benign extraction, separation, and refining technologies, starting with unconventional coal-based resources, and producing rare earths and critical minerals for use in clean energy, national defense, and/or commercial commodity products and equipment.
Read more details of this funding opportunity announcement here. All questions must be submitted through FedConnect; register here for an account. The application deadline is October 20, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Societal Considerations and Impacts
In alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance environmental justice and equity, funding applicants must carefully address the societal considerations and impacts of their proposed projects, emphasizing early, active, and meaningful engagement with communities. The program contributes to President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which works to ensure that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are underserved and overburdened by pollution.
Applicants must explain how projects are expected to deliver economic and environmental benefits and mitigate impacts; conduct community and stakeholder engagement; incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and promote workforce development and quality jobs. Projects selected under this opportunity will be required to develop and implement strategies to ensure strong community and worker benefits, and report on such activities and outcomes.
This will include obtaining data to support legislative and governmental decision-making, rulemaking, and development of safe and efficient practices for the production of rare earth elements and other critical minerals and materials.
DOE’s Advancements in Critical Minerals and Materials
Since January 2021, DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management has announced an estimated $41 million in projects that support critical minerals and materials exploration, resource identification, production, and processing in traditional mining and fossil fuel-producing communities across the country. This total includes $16 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for detailed engineering and cost studies toward a first-of-a-kind domestic facility that will extract and separate rare earth elements and critical minerals from unconventional sources like mining waste. This funding will create new opportunities to remediate land and water while generating rare earth elements necessary for a clean energy economy.
FECM minimizes environmental and climate impacts of fossil fuels and industrial processes while working to achieve net-zero emissions across our economy. Priority areas of technology work include carbon capture, carbon conversion, carbon dioxide removal, carbon dioxide transport and storage, hydrogen production with carbon management, methane emissions reduction, and critical minerals production. To learn more, visit the FECM website, sign up for FECM news announcements, and visit the National Energy Technology Laboratory website.