The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced on 15 March that it has granted the Doe Run Resources Corporation (Doe Run) a $7m award through the Defense Production Act Investment (DPAI) Program, earmarked for the completion of a demonstration-scale hydrometallurgical plant in Viburnum, Missouri, aimed at enhancing the separation process and supply of cobalt and nickel.

This initiative is part of the broader effort outlined in the 2024 National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS) to strengthen domestic production and supply chain resilience. The 2024 NDIS document, published in January, was the first paper from the department of its kind, meant for ensuring the US defence industrial base meets the demands put upon it by a challenging national security landscape, going into the future.

Dr. Laura Taylor-Kale, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy, highlighted the significance of the grant as a crucial advancement in lessening US dependency on inconsistent cobalt and nickel supplies, while also securing a durable industrial framework that can fulfil both present and upcoming requirements. “This award is another important step towards decreasing reliance on unstable sources of cobalt and nickel, and ensuring a sustainable industrial base capable of meeting current and future demand,” said Taylor-Kale.

The financial support provided by the Defense Production Act will assist Doe Run in advancing their method for extracting nickel and cobalt from Missouri’s mineral resources. The project aims to validate, showcase, and eventually upscale their hydrometallurgical process to achieve commercial production capabilities. Cobalt and nickel are critical components in various DoD systems, underlining the strategic importance of this domestic processing facility.

This award represents one of twelve grants issued by the DPAI program in various sectors, totalling $307m since the start of Fiscal Year 2024. The programme is managed by the Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization directorate within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Resilience, demonstrating the department’s commitment to strengthening the nation’s defence industrial base.

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