Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, points out in an editorial in The Hill that “The U.S. Department of Defense uses 750,000 tons of minerals each year in technologies that protect the very troops that protect our nation. Metals such as copper, lead and nickel are used in military gear, weapon systems and other defense technologies. Additionally, the mineral beryllium is used to reduce weight and improve guidance performance in fighter jets and NASA technologies such as the mirrors on the James Webb Space Telescope. But despite the strategic importance of minerals and metals to our national security, the United States ranks behind China, Russia, Chile and South Africa in terms of production. Furthermore, we remain completely import-dependent for 19 key minerals resources and more than 50 percent import-dependent for an additional 24 mineral commodities, which subjects supply chains to geopolitical instability and supply disruption.”
The US is blessed with abundant mineral resources but politics are, in many cases blocking to delaying productive use of those resources.
Quinn laments that “duplicative, inefficient permitting process wraps our domestic mineral development in endless red tape, stifling investment in new and existing mines in the United States.” Much of this delay is due to lawsuits by radical environmentalists. In the US, mining permits can take upwards of seven to 10 years, compared with countries such as Canada and Australia, whose modern minerals policies enable them to complete the process in two to three years, giving them a decided advantage over the United States.
The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015 introduced in the House of Representatives and the American Mineral Security Act of 2015 introduced in the Senate aim to remedy the situation and “modernize the current U.S. mining permitting process and allow for access to the trillions of dollars worth of resources we have here at home.”
These bills deserve bipartisan support.