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Energy Department seeks to boost mining through loan programs Trump proposed cutting

Energy Department seeks to boost mining through loan programs Trump proposed cutting
© Greg Nash

The Energy Department is seeking to use loan programs that President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE had previously proposed cutting to give a boost to the country’s mining industry. 

The department on Tuesday issued a guidance stating that it had a “preference” for critical minerals projects as applicants for two loan programs in the Loan Programs Office aimed at innovative technology and vehicle manufacturing, respectively. 

And in his budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year, Trump called for eliminating funding for the programs. 

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However, the administration has taken a number of steps to bolster mining for minerals it has deemed “critical,” including uranium, aluminum and titanium. 

Notably, the president issued an executive order seeking to use the Defense Production Act to boost mining. 

The Defense Production Act, which Democrats said Trump should have used to manufacture equipment to protect people from the pandemic, lets the government force businesses to make products it decides are necessary for safety. 

In the latest move to assist mining, a senior Energy Department official told reporters that applicants whose projects have to do with critical mining may gain an advantage over other applicants in the loan-seeking process under the new guidance. 

It depends on what other projects are also under consideration, but the department will consider whether the projects are critical mineral projects when making its decisions, the official said. 

However, if companies apply under the guidance, their cases may be handled by the incoming administration since — according to the department — applications can take years. 

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Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette praised the announcement in a statement, implying that increased production will make the country less dependent on China. 

“These critical minerals make up necessary products for our military, energy technologies, national infrastructure, and economy,” he said “For too long we have been reliant on foreign adversaries like China for the production and supply of these minerals. It is imperative we utilize the tools of the federal government to help establish a robust domestic supply chain of these thirty-five critical minerals.”

Notable beneficiaries of the Loan Programs Office programs include Tesla and Solyndra, a solar panel company that ultimately went bankrupt.