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U.S. Department of Defense awards millions to spur graphite industry

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(The Center Square) – A Canadian company is receiving a $37.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to study the possibility of a graphite deposit near Nome, Alaska.

Graphite is used in electric vehicle batteries, brake linings and steelmaking. The United States has not produced graphite since the 1950s and is dependent on other countries for the material, according to information from the U.S Geological Survey.

Vancouver-based Graphite One will use the grant for a feasibility study and to expand domestic production, the company said.

“This Department of Defense grant underscores our confidence in our strategy to build a 100% U.S.-based advanced graphite supply chain – from mining to refining to recycling,” said Anthony Huston, founder and CEO of Graphite One. “The World Bank Group reports that the production of minerals, including graphite, could increase by nearly 500% by 2050, to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the project is “in a league of its own.”

“As the United States and the world transition to an era of dramatically increased mineral use, it is crucial for us to rebuild our domestic supply chains—especially for natural graphite, which we have not produced for more than 30 years and currently depend on China and other nations for the entirety of our supply,” Murkowski said in a news release.

For every one million electric vehicles on the road, about 80,000 tons of graphite will be needed, according to a news release from the Alaska congressional delegation.

“This award has the potential to open up significant opportunities for our state in terms of producing our abundant reserves of critical minerals and metals,” said U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who met with energy officials and took the lead on a letter to the Department of Defense about the project. “It’s also significant for our country’s national security. We must end America’s dependence on China for critical minerals like graphite, which are necessary for alternative energy sources as well as defense technologies.”

The grant money comes from the Defense Production Act, according to the news release.

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