Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, New Project Will Demonstrate the Commercial Viability of Turning Mine Waste into Clean Energy Technology, Boosting Domestic Manufacturing and Securing Domestic Supply Chain

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $156 million in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for a first-of-a-kind facility to extract and separate rare earth elements (REE) and critical minerals (CM) from unconventional sources like mining waste. Rare earth elements and other critical minerals are key to manufacturing clean energy technologies right here in America—such as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cells—that will help the nation reach the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. 

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides America with a historic opportunity to turn legacy waste into the components of clean energy technology in a way that bolsters domestic supply chains and enhances our national security,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The demand for clean energy technology continues to grow at a rapid pace and an American-made critical minerals refinery will help generate jobs and increase our competitiveness on the global stage.” 

The United States currently imports more than 80% of its rare earth elements from offshore suppliers to produce clean energy technologies and other indispensable products that we rely on every day such as smart phones, computers, and medical equipment. Across the country, there are billions of tons of coal waste and ash, acid mine drainage, and discharged water. However, these waste streams from mining, energy production, and related activities, contain a wide variety of valuable rare earth elements and other critical minerals that can be repurposed into clean energy technologies, while helping to create healthier environments for communities across the country. 

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) seeks applications from U.S. academic institutions for a front-end engineering design study followed by the design, construction, and operation of a first-of-a-kind domestic demonstration facility that will extract, separate, produce, and refine rare earth elements and other critical minerals from the nation’s vast quantities of waste streams from mining and energy production. 

Throughout the life of the project, the selected applicant must engage in community outreach and consultations with historically disadvantaged communities, prioritize environmental justice when identifying project site locations, and maximize local workforce development opportunities for the operation of the demonstration facility. Applicants are encouraged to review DOE’s commitment to the Justice40 Initiative, which states that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments will flow to disadvantaged communities, and that projects will have minimal negative impacts on communities with environmental justice concerns. 

All applicants must register and submit application materials through FedConnect. The application deadline is November 21, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. ET. All questions about this FOA must be submitted through Fedconnect; register here for an account. Read the full FOA for more information.  

This opportunity is managed by DOE’s Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains and Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, working together to strengthen and secure a domestic supply chain for rare earth elements and critical minerals.