DOE awards $19 million to 13 initiatives in fossil-fuel areas to produce rare earth elements and critical minerals

Press release

May 17, 2021

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $19 million for 13 projects in traditionally fossil-fuel-producing communities across the country to support production of rare earth elements and critical minerals essential to the manufacturing of batteries, magnets, and other components important to the clean energy economy.

Facing persistent shortages in domestic supply, the U.S. has been forced to rely on imported materials, leaving clean energy technology production at greater risk of disruption.

“The very same fossil fuel communities that have powered our nation for decades can be at the forefront of the clean energy economy by producing the critical minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines, and so much more,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.”

Production of rare earth elements and critical minerals, which serve as key components to several clean energy applications such as magnets in wind turbines and batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, is a prime example of how DOE is supporting regional economic growth and job creation in regions traditionally home to the fossil fuel industry.

These funding awards align with last week's recommendations of the White House Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, which outlined a national roadmap to partner with local communities to ensure that the shift to a clean energy economy creates good-paying union jobs, spurs economic revitalization, and supports workers.

Selected projects fall under 12 areas of interest, corresponding to the selected U.S. basins that have the potential to produce rare earth elements and critical minerals.

• Appalachian Basin — North: Pennsylvania State University aims to assess and catalog Northern Appalachian Basin rare earth elements and critical minerals resources and waste streams, develop strategies to recover minerals from these streams, and assess the infrastructure, industries and businesses in the Northern Appalachian Basin to determine supply chain gaps. DOE Funding: $1,204,129

• Appalachian Basin: The Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech plans to promote regional economic growth and foster new job creation by accelerating the extraction and processing of rare earth elements and critical minerals resources from coal, coal sediments, coal ash, coal refuse and impoundments, acid mine drainage and other basin-specific resources in the Central Appalachian region. DOE Funding: $1,499,999

• Appalachian Basin — South: Collaborative Composite Solutions Corp. aims to develop and deploy new technologies for manufacturing rare earth elements, critical minerals and valuable non-fuel, carbon-based products from coal and/or coal waste in the South Appalachian Basin, thus revitalizing distressed South Appalachian coal communities, reducing reliance on foreign imports, and creating advanced manufacturing jobs producing coal-derived products. DOE Funding: $1,499,997

• San Juan River-Raton-Black Mesa Basin: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology plans to determine the rare earth elements and critical minerals resource potential in coal and related stratigraphic units in the San Juan and Raton basins in New Mexico. DOE Funding: $1,483,787

• Illinois Basin: Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois aims to lead a project to evaluate the domestic occurrence of strategic elements in coal, coal-based resources and waste streams from coal use. The project will assess mining techniques and state-of-the-art separation and mineral extraction technologies. DOE Funding: $1,499,987

• Williston Basin: University of North Dakota plans to lead a coalition to drive the expansion and transformation of coal and coal-based resource usage within the Williston Basin to extract rare earth elements and critical minerals and produce non-fuel carbon-based products. DOE Funding: $1,500,000

• Powder River Basin: University of Wyoming aims to provide an economic benefit to the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana by stimulating new resource development around the nation’s largest coal mines. DOE Funding: $1,499,817

• Uinta River Basin: University of Utah plans to quantify, assess, and plan to enable the transformation of Uinta Basin earth resources such as coal, oil shale, resin, rare earth elements and critical materials into high value metal, mineral and carbon-based products that can be used in advanced products such as carbon fiber composites in aircraft and high powered magnets and batteries in electric vehicles. DOE Funding: $1,500,000

• Green River — Wind River Basin: University of Wyoming aims to develop and catalyze regional economic growth, job creation, and technology innovation in the Greater Green River Basin/Wind River Basin of Wyoming and Colorado by increasing the supply of rare earth elements and critical minerals to manufacturers of non-fuel carbon based products and products reliant upon critical minerals. DOE Funding: $1,499,647

• Gulf Coast Basin: The University of Texas at Austin plans to quantify coal from mines and coal ash from power plant resources and refuse as feedstocks for rare earth elements and critical minerals within the US Gulf Coast Basin. DOE Funding: $1,497,376

• Alaska: University of Alaska Fairbanks aims to reduce US reliance on imported rare earth elements and critical minerals by establishing Alaska’s resources as competitive sources of supply. DOE Funding: $1,499,808

• Other: University of Kansas Center for Research Inc. plans to study the feasibility of recovering critical minerals from coal and associated strata in the Cherokee-Forest City Basin encompassing Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Osage Nation. DOE Funding: $1,500,000

• Other: West Virginia University Research Corp. aims to focus on the expansion and transformation of the use of coal and coal-based resources, including waste streams, to produce products of high value to the 21st century energy and manufacturing ecosystem. DOE Funding: $1,500,000



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