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U.S. to research domestic rare minerals

Jan. 10, 2013 at 6:37 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Bringing the right research team together at an Iowa laboratory will help ensure there are enough rare earth metals in the U.S. supply chain, an official said.

The U.S. Department of Energy said it was backing the Critical Materials Institute in Ames, Iowa, with as much as $120 million over the next five years. The research team would look for solutions to the domestic shortage of rare earth metals and other materials the government deems critical to U.S. energy security.

David Danielson, assistant secretary for renewable energy, said such materials are critical for manufacturing low-carbon resources such as electric vehicles and wind turbines.

"The Critical Materials Institute will bring together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories and the private sector to find innovative technology solutions that will help us avoid a supply shortage that would threaten our clean energy industry as well as our security interests," he said in a statement.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the United States is 100 percent dependent on foreign sources for rare earth minerals. It added there may be deposits of such minerals in 14 U.S. states.

About 95 percent of the rare earth minerals on the world market come from China.

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