Parson designates millions to bolster Missouri mining of critical minerals

(The Center Square) – Millions of Missouri taxpayer dollars could be going to a consortium aiming to get $40 to $70 million in federal funds to bolster mining of critical minerals in the state.

Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson included $5.4 million in his proposed $51.8 billion fiscal year 2025 budget to construct a new 18,000-square foot, climate-controlled facility for the consortium. It will be located between the Missouri Geological Survey, a division of the Department of Natural Resources, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus in Rolla.

In addition to expansion of research in the field, the project is expected to promote economic development. Parson also said the project also involves national security as he included $10 million in his proposed budget for semiconductor research, development and skills training.

“When it comes to semiconductors and critical minerals, we can lead and we will lead to ensure we never have to rely on nations like China again,” Parson said in his State of the State last week during a joint session of the General Assembly.

Critical minerals are defined as non-fuel minerals or mineral material essential for the nation’s economy and national security and “with a supply chain vulnerable to disruption,” according to the Energy Act of 2020.

“Critical minerals are also characterized as serving an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for the economy or national security,” according to the U.S. Geological survey website.

The federal agency reported 29 of the top 50 critical minerals can be found in Missouri.

Parson also proposed $1.3 million to support ongoing and new collaborations with state, federal, higher education and private partners to promote interest in Missouri’s critical minerals industry.

Approximately $824,700 is proposed in the Department of Natural Resources budget for a multi-sensor core scanner to assess for critical minerals at the McCracken Core Library and Research Center in Rolla.

The Critical Minerals and Materials for Advanced Energy Tech Hub, led by the Missouri University of Science and Technology, is a designated regional technology and innovation hub through the U.S. Economic Development Administration. In October, the federal government named the Missouri organization as one of 31 hubs from 198 applications. It received a $500,000 grant to develop its strategy for local planning and coordination for new regional economic development.

“We are one of only two Tech Hubs focused on critical minerals and materials, and it is imperative that we make it clear to the federal government why our region of Missouri is best suited for this major investment,” Kwame Awuah-Offei, executive director of the Tech Hub, said in a statement.

The Missouri hub will be applying next month for five to 10 grants of between $50 and $75 million.

Missouri’s hub is designated to serve a 14-county area, including Carter, Crawford, Dent, Howell, Iron, Madison, Oregon, Phelps, Reynolds, Shannon, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Texas and Washington.

“This will be a significant economic boost for our region, and it will impact the entire country,” Awuah-Offei said. “We anticipate the broader economic impact of this Tech Hub to be in excess of $40 billion dollars, and having EDA’s support will be key for making this a reality.”

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