ORE Act encourages more than rare earths
Bill offers grants and tax incentives for US battery minerals Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – May 20, 2020
Last updated 6/27/2020 at 6:10am
The Onshoring Rare Earths Act of 2020, or ORE Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on May 12 reaches beyond the 17 rare earth elements to include an additional four minerals and metals needed for lithium-ion batteries – cobalt, graphite, lithium and manganese.
Cruz, who has long held that "China is the most significant geopolitical threat to the United States for the next century", introduced ORE Act as means of steering America's dependence for rare earth and battery elements away from China by establishing a domestic supply chain for them.
To accomplish this, the legislation provides tax incentives for buying American mined rare earths and battery minerals and metals; strengthens requirements for the Pentagon to source these critical mined materials from the U.S .; and establishes grants for pilot programs to develop these materials in the U.S.
The ORE Act offers up to 200% tax deduction to U.S. taxpayers "for the purchase or acquisition of critical minerals and metals which have been extracted from deposits in the United States."
The legislation defines critical minerals and metals as rare earths – cerium, dysprosium, erbium, europium, gadolinium, holmium, lanthanum, lutetium, neodymium, praseodymium, promethium, samarium, scandium, terbium, thulium, ytterbium, and yttrium – plus cobalt, graphite, lithium, and manganese.
While this tax incentive does not directly benefit American mines producing rare earths and battery materials, it does provide U.S. manufacturers strong incentives to look for domestic sources of the minerals and metals.
What would directly foster rare earth and battery mineral projects are up to $10 million grants "to finance pilot projects for the development of critical minerals and metals in the United States."
These grants would be awarded through the Pentagon, with consultation with Department of Interior.
The ORE Act instructs the Secretary of Defense to prioritize project that "are likely to be economically viable over the long term."
If the legislation passes as written, the Department of Defense would be appropriated $200 million for these grants over a four-year span beginning in fiscal year 2021, or $50 million a year.
At least 30% of the annual grants are to be awarded to secondary recovery of critical minerals and metals such as recycling, reprocessing of tailings or recovery from coal ash.
More information on recovering critical minerals from tailings can be read at Mining mine waste for technology metals in the May 6 edition of Metal Tech News.
Further details on new technology being developed to recover rare earths from coal ash and other secondary sources can be found at REE tech arises from the ashes of coal in the May 6 edition of Metal Tech News.
These grants and tax incentives are aimed at fostering a domestic supply of these rare earth elements, minerals, and metals critical to electric vehicles, renewable energy, military, and other high-tech applications.
"Our ability as a nation to manufacture defense technologies and support our military is dangerously dependent on our ability to access rare earth elements and critical minerals mined, refined, and manufactured almost exclusively in China," Cruz said. "Much like the Chinese Communist Party has threatened to cut off the U.S. from life-saving medicines made in China, the Chinese Communist Party could also cut off our access to these materials, significantly threatening U.S. national security. The ORE Act will help ensure China never has that opportunity by establishing a rare earth elements and critical minerals supply chain in the U.S."
Details of a company looking to establish a graphite mine and processing facility in Alaska can be found at Stacking uses for Alaska STAX graphite in the current issue of Metal Tech News; and companies advancing a rare earth element and critical minerals mine and separation facility in Texas can be read at Texas REE separation plant makes progress in the April 15 edition of Metal Tech News.