November 25, 2013
Frank Ongaro put it simply in an editorial in today’s Duluth News Tribune, writing “Our fathers’ and grandfathers’ mistakes made us smarter in so many ways, including about mining.”
As the United States faces a growing reliance on mineral imports, members of Congress have introduced legislation that would better employ our nation’s own mineral resources while supporting American innovation, manufacturing, economic growth and national security.
Despite the importance of minerals to our economic well-being, global competitiveness and national security, the U.S. lacks coherent minerals mining policy. A duplicative permitting process puts our nation dead last among top mining countries when ranked on mining permitting delays. An inconsistent, outdated regulatory framework is challenging to navigate. Punitive economic policies can add to an unattractive business environment.
As a result, investors, who often spend tens of millions of dollars before even breaking ground on a mine, take their money to countries with more efficient permitting processes and predictable regulations.
While countries around the world enact forward-looking minerals policies, we in the United States watch mining jobs go overseas. We forfeit tax revenue from mining projects. We make minerals harder to obtain for U.S. manufacturers. We subject ourselves to foreign governments for the minerals vital to our security.
Like many other critical U.S. industries, policies being debated in Washington could have a major impact on mining. As policymakers consider how to get our nation’s economy back on track, two different paths have emerged for mining.
One path opens us to the possibility of increased domestic production of critical minerals, much-needed job creation and enhanced national security.
In February of this year, Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada re-introduced the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 (H.R. 761), legislation to address the length, complexity and uncertainty of our mining permitting process. The same legislation passed the House of Representatives with strong bi-partisan support in 2012. The outdated and overly burdensome permitting process is one of the biggest hurdles facing U.S. minerals mining today, as current policies slow domestic mining projects down for seven—even ten—years. Rep. Amodei’s legislation gets to the heart of the problem: an inefficient permitting process stops investment in the American minerals, threatens shortages of critical minerals and jeopardizes our economic growth.
H.R. 761 would help increase our production of mineral materials right here at home and lend a much-needed hand to our struggling economy. This common-sense legislation’s time has come.
The other path that has emerged leads to higher taxes and product costs, the loss of well-paying jobs, slowed economic growth, increased reliance on foreign suppliers, and restrictions on American innovation.
At the core of this path is the administration’s proposed $1.8 billion tax on mining. This tax would disrupt domestic production and cut off opportunities for future growth. This isn’t a tax on profits or even minerals extracted; it’s a massive tax on every rock and pound of dirt moved in the mining process. This would not only threaten thousands of good American jobs, but also make U.S. mining less attractive, driving investment and mining jobs overseas, and forcing us to import more of the minerals on which our country relies.
The path that leads America to a stronger economy and more secure future is clear.