WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) issued the following statement on two separate Wyoming rare earth mineral research projects receiving federal funding from the Department of Energy. Barrasso has long emphasized and supported the importance of rare earth mineral mining, separation, and supply chain development. The funding was awarded to the Wyoming initiatives by the Trump administration.
“It’s essential for America’s national security that we develop a full supply chain of rare earth minerals,” said Barrasso. “Ensuring a supply of American-sourced rare earths is key to our military readiness and our energy future. China has dominated the international market for rare earth elements, but we can break that dependency. Wyoming is on the cutting edge of this development. With funds from the Department of Energy, researchers and developers in Upton and Laramie can now move forward with their work.”
The recipients of Department of Energy Funding include:
• $22 million for General Atomics in Upton, WY, for a rare earth element separation and processing demonstration project near the Bear Lodge Project site; and
• $500,000 for the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY for the generation of rare earth metals from rare earth oxides by using microwave plasma.
Rare earth elements (REEs) consist of seventeen chemical elements. These elements are used in a wide range of technological applications, including in smart phones, electromagnets, and military applications. REEs are used in iPhones to colored touch screen, speakers, and vibrating function. REEs are used in military functions, including precision guided munitions (PGMs), lasers, radar, sonar, night vision systems, jet engines, and armored vehicles. China has dominated REE production and supply chains, while U.S. production has dwindled.
On April 24, 2020, Barrasso and other Senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper to emphasize the importance of rare earth minerals to America’s military.
On April 24, 2020, Barrasso and other Senators sent a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to emphasize the importance of rare earth minerals to America’s national security.