The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $19m to fund the development of 13 projects to produce rare earth elements and critical minerals essential in the manufacture of batteries and magnets.

The funding is expected to help the US accelerate its rare earth elements production as it aims to reduce its dependence on China due to strained trade relations.

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China produces around 70% of the world’s rare earths.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M Granholm said: “By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.”

Among the entities selected to receive the DOE funding to develop their respective projects include Pennsylvania State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Collaborative Composite Solutions, and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

The DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the selected projects.

Last month, the US DOE announced up to $30m funding to support scientific research to ensure domestic firms can sufficiently access rare earths.

Rare earths are used as critical components across several industries, ranging from electric vehicles to smartphones. They are vital for satellites, missile guidance systems, missile defence systems and more.

In August 2020, the DOE has announced $20m in financing for basic research on rare earth elements.

Last year, Russia also announced its plan for a $1.5bn investment in rare earth minerals as it tries to reduce its reliance on China for rare earths.

Earlier this year, reports emerged that USA Rare Earth is planning for a stock-market listing this year at a valuation of more than $1bn.

The proceeds will be used by the firm to partially finance the Round Top mine and processing facility with an aim to start production by 2023.