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Reserved for Energy
The BIL will invest appropriations of $32 million for Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) studies for two different sizes (intermediate-scale and demonstration scale) Rare Earth Element (REE) Facilities that demonstrate the extraction, separation, and refining from coal and coal by-products to high purity individual or binary rare earth metals (REM) and/or critical minerals and materials (CMM).
The REE facilities sought in this FOA will target two different scales: 1) intermediate-scale on the order of 30-100 metric tons (t)14,15 Mixed Rare Earth Oxides/Salts (MREO/MRES) per year, or 2) demonstration-scale of 1-3 tMREO/MRES per day. Both scales should require concentrate purity at a minimum of 75 weight percent (wt%) with a preference towards 98wt% or greater and subsequently processed to individual or binary separated REO or RES at >90% concentration by weight, culminating in the production of market-grade REM that is generally 99.9% by weight or greater, pending supply chain specifications. A majority (greater than 50% by weight) of MREO/MRES must be extracted from coal-based feedstocks. DOE intends that this first-generation, first-of-a-kind REE Facility will utilize:
- Conventional separations technologies including physical beneficiation (as needed), chemical separation including, but not limited to, hydrometallurgy, solvent extraction for the separation of individual REE-CM oxides, and reduction to metals, with subsequent alloying of metals. Further advanced technologies will be encouraged, but only if the component(s) and/or circuit(s) have been extensively tested and are ready for deployment.
- Unconventional Coal and coal by-products as feedstock resources from which a majority (greater than 50% by weight) of MREO/MRES must be extracted. These may include newly-mined coal limited to mines that were in operation prior to Sept. 19, 2022, coal ash, coal mine wastes (refuse tailings), coalbased raw acid mine drainage (AMD) fluids and precipitates, or other byproducts. Recycled materials such as hard drives or fluorescent lightbulbs will not be included.
The REE facility will have the capability of extracting, separating, and refining REE and CMM from at least one coal-based source, but it may have the capability to process materials from multiple feedstock resources, demonstrating the capabilities of feedstock flexibility. REE recovery will be the primary focus of the facility with the preferred co-recovery of other CMM as permitted; however, CMM recovery (without REE recovery) is not the focus. Production quantities and concentrate material purity are identified above for REE, and for CMM should be of a purity that could be sold to an offtake market or buyer.
This FOA will consist of two Topic Areas, both of which will have the objective of completing a Front-End Engineer & Design (FEED) study based on an AACE Class 3 cost estimate A that results in saleable refined metal (oxide or salt) products.
- Topic Area 1 will be for Applicants that have previously completed a Pre-FEED or Feasibility Study on an intermediate-scale facility (on the order of 30-100 t MREO/MRES per year) including most or all elements of an AACE Class 4 cost estimate (or equivalent).
- Topic Area 2 will target Applicants that have previously completed a Pre-FEED or Feasibility Study on a demonstration-scale facility (1-3 t MREO/MRES per day) based on an AACE Class 4 cost estimate (or equivalent).