$37.7M Defense Department grant goes to Graphite One for mining study

A Defense Department grant of $37.5 million will help finance a $75 million feasibility study by a Vancouver, Canada mining firm for a graphite mine north of Nome deemed critical to rebuilding the U.S. supply chain for the mineral used in electronics and batteries.

“The Graphite One project is in a league of its own in terms of the scope of the resource in the ground in Alaska and the vision the company has for manufacturing anode materials and recycling batteries in Washington state,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, in a statement issued by the Alaska congressional delegation.

“This award has the potential to open up significant opportunities for our state in terms of production of our abundant reserves of critical minerals and metals,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska. “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. Alaska should and could be leading the way in unleashing America’s resources.”

“Critical minerals like graphite will be key for the inventions of the future, from clean energy to advanced defense technologies, and with this funding, Alaskans can build a crucial link in our nation’s supply chains,” added Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska. “This project will also bring needed jobs and economic development to a rural area of Alaska, with opportunities for hundreds of local hires during construction and operation. I look forward to seeing the completion of the feasibility study for this project, and will continue to support the development of our critical mineral resources.”

The objective of the grant, funded through the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, is to perform an accelerated feasibility study to modernize and expand domestic production capacity and supply for graphite battery anodes necessary for electronic vehicles and alternative energy batteries, as an essential national defense technology item, officials with Graphite One said in a statement.

The pre-feasibility study on the huge graphite deposit, released last October, identified a mine producing 75,026 metric tons of graphite produce annually for some 26 years. A company spokesman said the feasibility study itself, which is underway, should take about 15 to 18 months.


Residents in the Nome area are divided on their support of the mine. While some officials and residents of the area welcome the mine, three tribal entities, as well as the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, have voiced concerns about the project. The project is still years away from operation, should the feasibility study determine the mine is economically feasible.

“The announcement comes just days after local tribes moved to protect the watersheds that are threatened by Graphite One through instream flow reservation permits,” said Elisabeth Balster Dabney, executive director of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. “The Department of Defense and Alaska delegation have shown that once again they value extraction over local food security and ecosystem abundance.” 

Native village traditional councils of Teller, Mary’s Igloo, and Brevig Mission have voiced opposition for applications for instream flow reservation permits for the mine, on the contention that the mine would have an adverse impact on a subsistence economy that has sustained Native people in the region for thousands of years. They are concerned about the impact of development and operation of the mine, as well as what they describe as its potential toxic afterlife.