Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resource Recovery
The Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resources (MINER) program seeks to increase the U.S. domestic supplies of copper, nickel, lithium, cobalt, and other rare earth elements. These minerals are critical during the transition to clean sources of energy, such as wind and solar. The MINER program will fund the technology research that increases the mineral yield while decreasing the required energy, and subsequent emissions, to mine and extract these energy-relevant minerals. Specifically, the program will investigate the potential CO2-reactive ores to unlock net-zero or net-negative emission technologies. At the conclusion of this program will be a portfolio of commercially demonstratable technologies that can realize the following benefits:
- Increase energy-relevant mineral yield by capturing desired minerals in CO2-reactive mineralogy
- Recover any remaining mineral value by reprocessing existing CO2-reactive rock, soil layers, or tailings deposits
- Carbon-negative pathways by developing ore-to-metal reactions to carbonate CO2-reactive ore
- Decrease mineral processing energy and reduce minerals tailing losses by 50%
The U.S. domestic mineral supply is projected to be insufficient to meet the demand for the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable and clean energy sources. This poses a significant risk to the energy supply chain, from renewable generation, battery storage, electricity transmission, to electric vehicles. The current state of mineral extraction technologies is further challenged by difficult operating conditions such as the continued depletion of high-profit deposits, increased mining and processing costs, and the expensive management of accumulated tailings. Technology innovation is needed to relieve the demand for these energy minerals and place mineral extraction on a more sustainable economic path.
The MINER program aims to use the reactive potential of CO2-reactive ore materials to decrease mineral processing energy and increase the yield of energy-relevant minerals via novel negative emission technologies.
Since the creation of the U.S. Critical Minerals Stockpiling Act (1939), the domestic supply of energy-relevant minerals has been a national security and economic concern. With the combination of rapid technological advancements and geopolitical events, the U.S. domestic conventional mineral supply is insufficient for the transition from fossil fuels to renewable and clean energy sources. MINER metrics meet the U.S. need for net-zero, commercial-ready technologies that provide energy-relevant minerals for economic and national security.
In addition to demonstrating carbon negativity, the proposed technologies will quantify and reduce our impact on environmental and human health by addressing ecotoxicity, acidification of air, smog, water pollution, and more.
MINER metrics specify increasing the yield of energy-relevant minerals by reducing unrecovered energy-relevant minerals in by 50% compared with state of the art.