The pandemic aid and spending package signed by US President Donald Trump last Sunday includes more than $ 800 million to fund research into rare earths and strategic minerals – spending that mining companies say will help counteract China’s dominance over the sector.
The $ 2.3 trillion, 5,593-page bill essentially codifies Trump’s executive orders on rare earths, used to make magnets for electric vehicles, other green technologies and weapons.
The bill calls for better geological studies of federal lands, funds studies on rare earth processing and recycling, and supports improvements to mining education programs.
The National Mining Association, the industry trade group, as well as Energy Fuels Inc and other rare earth companies praised the bill’s mineral clauses.
Reviving domestic rare earth production has become a priority for Washington as relations with China have deteriorated.
The bill “will allow the United States to increase the responsible production and processing of critical minerals,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate energy committee, who introduced minerals legislation last year that was incorporated into the bill. broader law.
The law requires the United States Geological Survey to forecast demand for metals in much the same way as the Department of Energy forecasts demand for oil, a step that miners say will help them better plan for projects.
“This bill is something the United States needs in the short and medium term to renew investment in renewable energy, especially after COVID-19,” said Mark Saxon, CEO of Medallion Resources Ltd, which is considering building a plant. rare earth. in Texas.
Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, added a clause to the bill that requires an annual report from the director of national intelligence on China’s overseas mining investments.
“This bill is a bipartisan win and decisive policy for a US mine-to-magnet supply chain,” said Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth, which is developing a rare earth project with Texas. Mineral Resources Corp.