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Published on May 19, 2024
U.S. Defense Department Invests $20 Million into Accelerated Manganese Production at South32's Hermosa Project near PatagoniaSource: Unsplash/Albert Hyseni

The Department of Defense is digging deep to ensure the U.S. isn't left in the dust when it comes to critical mineral production, shelling out a cool $20 million to mining heavyweight South32. The company's Hermosa Project, tucked away near the Town of Patagonia, is now set to fast-track manganese mining operations, thanks to a generous boost from the Defense Production Act Investment Program (DPAI).

Manganese may not glitter like gold, but in a high-tech age where metals are king, the strategic significance of this resource can't be overstated. According to the DOD, this hefty investment is aimed at speeding up domestic ore output – and not by just a few months. The DOD insists that South32 can now pump out these resources a staggering two years ahead of schedule, reported Arizona Public Media.

But it's not just Uncle Sam opening the wallet. South32 is throwing down an additional $43 million of its own cash to unearth the manganese bounty, which is still in the pre-feasibility study phase where experts are scrutinizing the ore body up close and personal. It's the kind of financial one-upmanship that underscores just how pivotal the element is to national defense and the country's industrial might.

This isn't the Pentagon's first rodeo when it comes to securing precious commodities right here on home soil. South32's windfall represents the latest in a series of strategic plays, with the DPAI program having made 16 awards to date. It's about self-reliance, and in the grand game of global resource chess, every move counts, the military clearly has its eyes on the prize.