DOE moves to strengthen domestic supply chain of critical minerals

December 3, 2020, 10:01AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has issued new guidance for applicants to its Loan Programs Office (LPO), stating a preference for projects related to critical minerals.

The guidance, a notice for which was published in the December 1 Federal Register, aims to boost the domestic supply chain of critical minerals in support of two of President Trump’s executive orders: the September 2020 order regarding the nation’s reliance on foreign sources for critical minerals, and the December 2017 order regarding the implementation of a federal strategy to ensure a domestic supply of those minerals.

The new guidance concerns two LPO programs: the Title XVII Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program. According to a DOE press release, the LPO is to “interpret the Title XVII Program and the ATVM Program broadly to encourage applications from potential projects involving the production, manufacture, recycling, processing, recovery, or reuse of critical minerals and other minerals.”

Title XVII projects: According to the DOE notice, examples of potential nuclear-sector minerals projects that may qualify for support under the Title XVII program include the following:

■ Mining, processing, or milling of critical minerals utilizing efficient end-use energy technologies.

■ Processing or refining of uranium for nuclear fuel.

■ Processing of zirconium for cladding of uranium fuel elements.

■ Processing of antimony for use as a neutron source in nuclear reactors during reactor startup.

Interested parties are instructed to submit applications electronically at energy.gov/lpo/application-process.

Brouillette

What they’re saying: “Reliable access to domestically produced critical minerals is of national importance,” said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. “These critical minerals make up necessary products for our military, energy technologies, national infrastructure, and economy. Our country needs critical minerals to make airplanes, computers, cell phones, electricity generation and transmission systems, and advanced electronics. For too long we have been reliant on foreign adversaries like China for the production and supply of these minerals. It is imperative we utilize the tools of the federal government to help establish a robust domestic supply chain of these 35 critical minerals.”


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