January 06, 2023
2022 was another significant year for minerals mining and set the...
American aerospace engineer, manufacturing executive, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company
Since the industrial revolution, the U.S. has enjoyed one of the strongest and most vibrant manufacturing networks in the world. From automobiles and jet engines to servers and computer chips, the speed and capacity at which we have produced materials and products led to vibrant economic growth and positioned the U.S. as an industrial world leader.
During October, as we celebrate our progress, the manufacturing industry and the people that make it possible, we also stop to acknowledge the challenges that our mineral import reliance causes U.S. manufacturing and nearly every other sector of the economy.
Minerals like platinum, copper, lithium, gold and silver are key components for thousands of products. For example, platinum is used in more than 20 percent of all manufactured goods and, in 2021, the U.S. imported $2.45 billion worth of platinum from Russia. U.S. automakers are warning that lithium, a key element in electric vehicle batteries, will be in short supply without U.S. investments in new mines and reforms to how projects are permitted.
Altogether, the United States is 100 percent import-reliant for 17 mineral commodities and at least 50 percent import-reliant for 30 others. In a recent letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Ford pointed to self-imposed regulatory barriers as a key river for that alarming import reliance, writing the current mine permitting process is “lengthy, costly and inefficient.”
Permitting delays are putting manufacturers in an impossible position: rely on geopolitical rivals for minerals or sit tight and wait for the U.S. to make necessary reforms. Most industries cannot afford to wait, and neither can their millions of workers.
The manufacturing industry is the fifth largest American employer with over 12 million employees. As the country adds more solar, wind and electric vehicle manufacturing, the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte estimate the addition of another four million manufacturing jobs by 2030. Careers in manufacturing and mining are rewarding and offer innovative, technology-driven opportunities to younger generations.
To support the growth of this sector and reestablish U.S. leadership in manufacturing, we need to recognize the importance of America’s mining industry. Without a commitment to updating the mine permitting process, manufacturers will continue to face uncertain supply chains and higher costs for many of the materials necessary for our economy. The U.S. has vast mineral resources. Now is the time to ensure made in America includes mined in America.
Learn more about minerals and our supply chain security.