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DOE pushes for mining independence from China with $16 million grants

April 13, 2023
By: Jonathan Dillon

Technologies developed by West Virginia University and the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks that extract and separate rare elements and critical minerals from acid mine drainage and coal waste, will each receive $8 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

According to West Virginia University Today, the grant is part of the Investing in America agenda under the Biden Administration. Project lead Paul Ziemkiewicz notes that it is meant to lead to the design, construction and operation of a pre-commercial demonstration facility for separating and refining rare earth elements and critical minerals.

The funding was announced as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to bring critical mineral supply chains to the U.S. and reduce reliance on competitors like China. The U.S. imports more than 80% of its rare earth elements and critical minerals.

John Kay at the Environmental Research Center at University of North Dakota noted that the greatest motive for initiating this project is national security and independence. Although rare earth mining develops a new industry within the country, Kay alluded to the reality that the U.S. (currently) will have a hard time competing with China, as the concentration of rare earth minerals in China is much greater in quantity.

West Virginiadoe, universities, university-partnerships, grants