In an effort to concentrate research on ore dressing and metal production, the National Science Foundation (NSF) formed a new basic research program as a part of its Chemical and Process Engineering Division. This program will be under the auspices of NSF's Engineering Directorate. Research is to be supported on every step of extractive metallurgy, from mining to processing to production, and even to reprocessing and disposal. Budgeting for the new program is expected to be on the order of $1.2 million for fiscal year 1981.
A program of this nature was apparently considered seriously by the Carter administration as a joint Department of Interior-private industry project of considerable size. Then-Secretary of Interior Cecil Andrus evidently did not support the program, but there is wide agreement throughout the mineral industries and the university community that such research is badly needed for the U.S. to compete. A joint program could benefit by cutting across the many difficult regulations that now are blamed for slowing research in minerals processing in this country.