Manufacturing comeback could be stalled

Posted on October 23, 2017 by Minerals Make Life

October marks Manufacturing Month and we have a lot to celebrate this year. On October 6, President Trump was joined by the National Association of Manufacturers’ CEO Jay Timmons as he signed a presidential proclamation officially commemorating Manufacturing Day. Recent support of American-made products and a focus on reshoring the U.S. manufacturing industry have paid off. The U.S. is now expected to be the most competitive manufacturing nation by 2020.

Manufacturing is vital to the health of our nation’s economy. Currently, the manufacturing industry contributes $2.18 trillion to the U.S. economy and creates 12.3 million jobs for the American people. However, with growth and innovation comes an increased demand for the resources that make manufacturing possible—minerals.

Minerals and metals like platinum, copper, nickel, iron ore, gold and more are all key resources for the manufacturing industry. In fact, 20 percent of all manufactured goods today are either made with or require platinum to be produced. As technologies rapidly advance, demand for additional minerals also climb. For example, the number of minerals needed to make a computer chip has increased by five times since 1980. Meanwhile, metals and their byproducts are required to enhance our everyday appliances, equipment and our handheld devices’ features and capabilities. Molybdenum helped create our new, ultra-thin TVs while rare earth minerals made it possible for our cell phones to vibrate, flash and transmit sound.

“All manufacturers depend on minerals and metals,” notes NMA President and CEO Hal Quin in his response to the Department of Commerce’s Request for Information on Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing. He also notes, however, that current federal policies are restricting industrial and economic growth. Burdensome and duplicative policies are placed on the mining industry, inhibiting manufacturers’ timely access to the raw materials they need. In addition, protracted delays can last up to a decade, preventing some mining projects from ever breaking ground.

As a result, the U.S. has become 100 percent import-reliant on 20 minerals and 50 percent import-reliant on an additional 30 minerals. Import costs and reliance on unstable supply chains create additional complications for U.S. businesses and manufacturers.

Therefore, we remain cautiously optimistic about projections to overtake China as the top manufacturing nation within the next few years. If our manufacturing renaissance is to be sustained, we will need to stop unnecessary restrictions that hinder timely access to our valuable mineral resources.

Learn more about the manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. here. Find Hal Quinn’s full comments to the U.S. Department of Commerce on the importance of minerals and manufacturing here.

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