‘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…’
The US Department of Energy (DoE) is seeking public input on a plan to build a rare earth element facility, which would take mine waste and extract critical minerals for clean energy technologies. It is said that this critical minerals refinery, which is supported by $140 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, would be the first-of-a-kind.
The DoE is seeking input from a wide range of sources including industry, investors, developers, academia, research laboratories, and communities that could potentially be impacted. The request for information is looking for feedback on factors such as design, construction and operation of a new facility to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of a full-scale rare earth element and critical minerals extraction and separation refinery. The information requested will also be used to help inform a site selection process, with a focus on active community outreach and consultation with historically underrepresented communities.
The DoE has said that across the US there are billions of tonnes of coal waste and ash, acid mine drainage and produced water, the legacy wastes from coal mining and related activities. This waste contains a variety of valuable minerals and materials, offering an untapped resource for producing critical minerals. The DoE added that currently; even when rare earth elements are mined the US, they are shipped overseas for processing and sold back to the US in more expensive products, such as semiconductors.
US Secretary of Energy, Jennifer M Granholm commented; ‘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…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.’