Australian miner, American Rare Earths (ASX:ARR) has joined a US Department of Energy project partner in developing rare earths supply chain security for the US.

The company’s wholly owned subsidiary Western Rare Earths Corp. has been named a Team Member of Critical Materials Institute (CMI); a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Innovation Hub.

The company’s assets have been identified as having the potential to be some of the largest rare earth deposits in the United States.

The agreement means Western Rare Earths now sits alongside the world’s second-largest metals producer Rio Tinto on the highly esteemed Critical Materials Institute (CMI) Team Members list, with both companies the only rare earths miners in the select group. Other members include leading universities, national laboratories and other private companies.

The Critical Materials Institute (CMI) is a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary consortium led by the Ames Laboratory. CMI is an Energy Innovation Hub of the U.S. Department of Energy. Its focus is innovation to assure supply chains for materials critical to clean energy technologies with special focus on the Rare Earths supply chain for the United States.

These critical materials are essential for American competitiveness in clean energy, including wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, and energy efficient lighting. The

Department’s “Critical Materials Strategy” reported that supply challenges for five rare earth metals may affect clean energy technology deployment in the coming years.

CMI is a public/private partnership, led by the Ames Laboratory, that brings together the best and brightest research minds from universities, national laboratories, and the private sector. The shared goal is to find innovative technology solutions that will help avoid a supply shortage that would threaten the US clean energy industry as well as security interests.

Strategic objectives for Team Members include opportunities to drive R&D, the option to license technology for deployment, and provide input to CMI research programs. CMI Team Members have research subcontracts from CMI or are providing cost sharing funds.

Requirements include specific research project deliverables within the entity’s areas of expertise, based on a scope of work and a negotiated budget, including cost-share as applicable.

Western Rare Earths’ invitation to become a CMI Team Member is a result of being a cost sharing co-applicant to a recently approved CMI R&D project expected to be announced in early 2022. The project includes other CMI Team Members, in the National Lab and University categories, as the primary researchers and Western Rare Earths providing feedstock, beneficiated Rare Earths mineralised ore, and industry guidance.

Marty Weems, CEO of Western Rare Earths and the President for the US Business Unit of American Rare Earths says that as a member of the Critical Minerals Institute the company will be working with some of the brightest minds in the world leading the innovation efforts to assure the supply chain for materials critical to the United States.

“Marty and the US team have been working diligently with various R&D partners to establish our presence with a number of the rare earth innovation efforts,” American Rare Earths CEO, Chris Gibbs, said.

“It’s our vision to be more than just a mining company but rather a technology leader in this space: vertically integrated and one day producing the rare earth metals that are critical to our future. It’s our strategy to not only focus on developing our rare earth mining projects that have some of the cleanest ore in the world but to work collaboratively with R&D leaders building processing and refining capability, using new, disruptive, green and clean technologies that will provide critical minerals for future generations. Becoming a member of the Critical Minerals Institute is one important step in the pursuit of our vision and the journey that lays ahead.”