Feb 14 -- DOE Launches $140 Million Program to Develop America’s First-of-a-Kind Critical Minerals Refinery (press release)
DOE Seeks Public Input on Building Rare Earth Element Facility to Turn Mine Waste into Vital Materials for Clean Energy Technology, Securing Domestic Supply Chain
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released a Request for Information (RFI) on the design, construction and operation of a new facility to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of a full-scale rare earth element (REE) and critical minerals (CM) extraction and separation refinery using unconventional resources. When built, this first-of-a-kind facility, supported by $140 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will support American manufacturing jobs, and help build a strong domestic supply chain for the next generation of clean energy technologies vital to reaching President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions future.
“Applying next-generation technology to convert legacy fossil fuel waste into a domestic source of critical minerals needed to strengthen our supply chains is a win-win — delivering a healthier environment and driving us forward to our clean energy goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s investment in the build out of this first-of-its kind critical minerals refinery, we are moving ideas from the lab to the commercial stage and demonstrating how America can compete for the global supply chain to meet the growing demand for clean energy technology.”
Across the United States, there are billions of tons of coal waste and ash, acid mine drainage, and produced water. The legacy wastes left behind by coal mining and related activities all contain a wide variety of valuable minerals and materials. Each of them offers an untapped resource for producing a wealth of critical minerals. REEs and CMs are essential materials that are used in a broad range of technologies that are significant to national security and energy, such as advanced aircraft, wind turbines, electric vehicles, semiconductors, and hydrogen fuel cells.
Currently, even when REEs are being mined within the U.S., they are shipped overseas for processing, before being sold back to the U.S. in more expensive products.
The RFI seeks information from industry, investors, developers, academia, research laboratories, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and potentially affected communities including environmental justice, tribal, energy transition, and other communities. The RFI solicits feedback on demonstration facility features, supply chain considerations, research and development needs, business models, and potential societal impacts and benefits.
The information requested will also help inform a site-selection process that emphasizes active community outreach and consultations with historically underrepresented communities and prioritizes environmental justice.
This is a Request for Information (RFI) issued by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The intent of this RFI is to obtain public input in support of a DOE plan to design, construct, and build-out a demonstration facility enabling domestic rare earth element (REE) and critical mineral (CM) supply chains for commercial commodities and national defense industries as well as for clean energy technologies in support of the administration’s goals of decarbonizing the electricity sector by 2035 and the economy by 2050. This facility will also provide environmental benefits using feedstocks derived from acid mine drainage, mine wastes, or other deleterious materials. Input is also sought regarding the economic and commercial feasibility and viability as well as the social and environmental justice implications of the demonstration facility.
Under the BIL, DOE is required to fund a REE demonstration facility. The information being sought is intended to assist DOE in the development of priorities and initiatives to enable the design, construction, and build-out of a facility to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of a full-scale, integrated REE extraction, separation, and refining facility. The information collected will also inform the type of information needed to determine whether a project is successful.
The information collected may be used for internal DOE planning and decision-making purposes across its research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) portfolio, including, but not limited to, determining potential new areas of focus and innovation; identifying challenges and knowledge gaps; identifying funding opportunities; identifying regional opportunities; and determining the potential for clean energy and carbon management careers, all while considering potential impacts to local communities (including environmental justice and energy transition communities).