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Critical mineral supplies get preference in DOE loan program

The program addresses commercial-scale projects

by Jyllian Kemsley
December 3, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 47

To address the need for materials for energy, electronics, and aerospace applications, the US Department of Energy has adjusted its loan program to give preference to projects related to critical mineral supplies.

In 2018, the Department of the Interior identified 35 critical minerals for current and emerging technologies. The list includes aluminum, platinum-group metals, and rare-earth elements.

The US imports over half its annual need for 31 and all its supply for 14 of the minerals, according to a Sept. 30 executive order from President Donald J. Trump. The directive deems the need for domestic mineral supplies as a national emergency.

For too long we have been reliant on foreign adversaries like China for the production and supply of these minerals.
Dan Brouillette, secretary, US Department of Energy

“For too long we have been reliant on foreign adversaries like China for the production and supply of these minerals,” says DOE secretary Dan Brouillette in a statement announcing the change in the agency’s loan guidance.

The DOE’s Loan Programs Office provides financing for large-scale, commercial deployment of energy projects; research, development, and demonstration projects are funded through other offices. The Loan Programs Office is encouraging applications for “potential projects involving the production, manufacture, recycling, processing, recovery, or reuse of Critical Minerals and other minerals,” the DOE statement says.

“This guidance will help ensure that reasonable support is available to help domestic producers, refiners, and recyclers supply the minerals that make our modern life possible,” says Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.



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