US government launches refinery program

The government will provide US$140 million in support.
US government launches refinery program US government launches refinery program US government launches refinery program US government launches refinery program US government launches refinery program

The U.S. government will invest in developing rare earths using unconventional resources.

The U.S. Department of Energy launched an RFI for a new refinery facility for rare earth elements and critical minerals extraction using "unconventional resources".

The two classes of metals would be processed in separate facilities.

The program would be supported by a US$140 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed in November 2021 to improve and modernise American infrastructure.

The law also funds a federal study on mining abandoned mine lands and mine waste to extract critical minerals. The Biden administration has committed to significantly expand U.S. extraction and refinery of these minerals to reduce dependence on foreign states, notably China.

Currently, the U.S. has no capacity to refine rare earths or critical minerals.

"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 energy technology," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.

The department is calling for information on the features of demonstration facilities, issues regarding supply chains, business models, the direction required for research and development, and the larger impacts and benefits of the refinery development program.

Several mining companies are working to jump-start REE production on American soil, among them Ucore Metals. Ucore has built a refinery in Alaska that sources rare earth feedstock from Vital Metals' Nechalacho rare earths project in Canada's Northwest Territories. The refinery is expected to be commissioned this quarter.

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