Critical minerals expertise leads Missouri S&T to be named one of nation’s Tech Hubs

Posted by
On October 24, 2023

Tech Hubs Official Designee graphic.

Missouri S&T was selected as one of the nation’s Tech Hubs.

Missouri S&T’s expertise in critical minerals and materials research has led to its selection as one of 31 Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs (Tech Hubs) funded through the CHIPS and Science Act.

The 31 hubs were announced Monday, Oct. 23. The Tech Hub Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), focuses on supporting innovation and job creation in key technology areas.

Missouri S&T’s initiative is called the Critical Minerals and Materials for Advanced Energy (CM2AE) Tech Hub.

“I’m incredibly proud of Missouri S&T for leading the way in critical minerals research,” says U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, whose 8th Congressional District includes Rolla and the Tech Hub region. “South-central and southeast Missouri are hotbeds for critical minerals, so it’s only fitting to place a hub for research on how to improve critical mineral mining in this region. I’ll continue supporting the university’s important work to strengthen our domestic supply chains, create jobs at home, and solve our nation’s critical minerals challenges.”

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson adds that S&T’s selection as a hub is a testament to the university’s leadership related to critical minerals research.

“Missouri is a national leader in manufacturing with rich reserves in critical minerals, and we’re proud that Missouri S&T continues to be at the forefront in preparing our state for the demands of tomorrow,” Parson says. “We appreciate the University of Missouri’s leadership in supporting battery technology and innovative job opportunities for Missourians across the state. 

“Whatever we need, we know Missourians can make it, and this Tech Hub will help strengthen our supply chains and lessen our reliance on foreign nations.” 

Dr. Kwame Awuah-Offei, principal investigator of the S&T hub and chair of mining and explosives engineering, says this initiative will provide an economic boost to the region, while also working to solve important issues related to energy manufacturing and critical minerals.

“Our work will build on the region’s mineral-rich geography, expertise in hydrometallurgical processing and existing assets,” he says. “We will increase processing capacity to convert minerals into materials necessary for advanced energy and critical goods, including lithium-ion and primary-lead-acid batteries.

“This will make a significant difference for America’s energy manufacturers and reduce dependence on foreign critical minerals, while also creating thousands of good-paying jobs.”

Over 400 applications were submitted for potential Tech Hubs. Since S&T was selected as one of the top applicants, the university now qualifies for Phase 2 of the program, with applications due by late February of next year. For this phase, EDA will award 5 to 10 grants, with each recipient receiving $40 million to $70 million.

Missouri S&T Chancellor Mo Dehghani says the Tech Hub includes multiple partners throughout the state.

“We greatly appreciate the support of members of our congressional delegation, Gov. Mike Parson, and our partners in industry and government, including the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Association of Councils of Governments, and community leaders in the 14 counties that comprise our Tech Hub district,” he says. 

“Addressing our nation’s critical minerals challenges requires a broad effort, and I’m grateful to the many organizations and individuals who recognize the importance of this effort supporting our national supply chain security.”  

S&T was also awarded a $500,000 Strategy Development Grant, which will be used for local planning and coordination to further develop regional economic development strategies. The 14 Missouri counties included in S&T’s Tech Hub region include Carter, Crawford, Dent, Howell, Iron, Madison, Oregon, Phelps, Reynolds, Shannon, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Texas and Washington.

For over 150 years, the university has served as one of the nation’s leaders in the field of mineral recovery. More recently, S&T has focused on helping the U.S. address challenges related to critical minerals, which the Energy Act of 2020 defines as non-fuel minerals vital to the nation’s economic or national security. Missouri is home to 29 of the 50 critical minerals identified by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Missouri’s 2024 budget also included $16 million for the Missouri Department of Economic Development to support S&T’s critical minerals research efforts.

Earlier this year, S&T hosted the third annual Resilient Supply of Critical Minerals national workshop through support from the National Science Foundation. The workshop brought together leaders from academia, government and the private sector to discuss the potential of mining critical minerals in the U.S., mineral processing and recycling, critical mineral policies, and sustainability.

Three of the workshop’s co-organizers are working with Awuah-Offei as co-principal investigators for the Tech Hub. Those co-PIs include:

  • Dr. Lana Alagha, associate professor of mining engineering
  • Dr. Marek Locmelis, associate professor of geology and geophysics and faculty fellow in research and innovation
  • Dr. Michael Moats, chair of materials science and engineering

Dr. Maciej Zawodniok, associate professor of computer engineering, is also a co-PI.

Funding for the Tech Hubs comes from $500 million Congress appropriated to EDA earlier this year to launch the program. Those funds were part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which authorized $10 billion over the next five years for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program.

More about Missouri S&T

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit

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On October 24, 2023.

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3 thoughts on “Critical minerals expertise leads Missouri S&T to be named one of nation’s Tech Hubs”

  • Tara Anura says:

    S&T is an innovative school that deserves funding. However, let’s give credit for funding where credit is due. The Biden Administration and Democrats.

    “Those funds were part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which authorized $10 billion over the next five years for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs program.” Rep. Smith voted against the Chips and Science Act. It’s easier for him to take credit for something and say he supports S&T. Roll Call 239 | Bill Number: H. R. 4346 “Nay”

    Rep. Smith has not asked for any earmarks to assist Missourians. “Smith did not request any earmarks for fiscal year 2024.

    Most representatives from both parties requested earmarks for fiscal year 2024. Rather than being distributed through a formula or competitive process administered by the executive branch, earmarks may direct spending where it is most needed for the legislator’s district.”

  • Morgan J Bearden says:

    Mr Edwards,

    Jason Smith had nothing to do with this. Stop trying to gain favor with reactionary buffoons who just happen to be our Congressional representative.

    Morgan J Bearden
    Rolla, Missouri

  • Legend Minerals LLC in Fredericktown, Missouri, seeks funding to test what is potentially a world-class deposit of several Critical and Strategic Minerals including Cobalt, Nickel, Copper, Gold, and Rare Earths in southeast Missouri.
    Preliminary results warrant expanding initial tests into formal GEOPHYSICAL and GEOCHEMICAL surveys. If these results are promising the next steps are drilling, Ore Body Definition, and Mineral Types inventory. At this point, a mining company will be invited to continue the Project. Legend Minerals is an Exploration Company, not a Mining Company.
    If exploration is successful and mining results, further processing of Rare Earths to metals, refining of other mineral products, and recovery and storage of Thorium to power Thorium-Fueled, Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors now beginning to come online, will provide raw materials for manufacturing of both high-tech (Electronics, Military Hardware, Specialty Alloys, Magnets) and common consumer items (Light Bulbs, Batteries, Electronics), in Industrial Parks located close to the mines.
    The ore deposit could be big enough to remain productive for 100+ years, like the Ozarks lead deposits, and similarly supportive of upward Value Chain manufacturing and the southeast Missouri economy.
    A possibly attainable goal is finding a use and customer for every mining byproduct and processing material, resulting in no need for Tailings Piles. There even are possible uses for empty mined-out sections of the mine(s).
    In Exploration, there are never guarantees, but Geology and work done so far suggest the presence of high-value Targets.