Minerals imperative to our military and economy
May 15, 2012
The Hill’s Congress Blog published a guest post today wri...
This week in the Arizona Daily Independent, an Arizona resident and geologist, David F. Briggs, voiced his support of the Resolution Copper mine project and future mining projects that will not only boost Arizona’s economy, but will also support the United States’ economic growth and national security.
Over the years, the United States has become increasingly dependent on imports for minerals that are essential to the defense, technology and energy sectors. In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States was at least 50 percent dependent on foreign sources for 25 minerals and metals in 1978. Today, however, that number has risen to 43 minerals and metals, with 100 percent reliance on 19 critical minerals and metals. This dependence puts the United States at an economic disadvantage.
What’s to blame? The United States’ current minerals permitting process takes seven to 10 years, creating a major obstacle to securing the mineral supplies vital to American manufacturing and national security. Copper, for instance, is the second most common mineral used by the Department of Defense and widely found in military gear, weapon systems and other defense technologies. It is also one of the minerals facing supply shortfalls. If the current permitting process is not reformed to allow better access to critical domestic minerals like copper, the nation’s economy and national security could suffer. Briggs states:
“Without the development of new mines to replace current domestic producers as their reserves are depleted, there will be fewer opportunities for the next generation of Americans to practice and hone their skills required to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Development of new technologies and skill sets are essential for remaining competitive in global marketplace and a strong national security.”
New mining developments will benefit Americans for many years to come, Briggs says, because they “help reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources for minerals, materials and finished products.” Fortunately, policymakers like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Mark Amodei (R – Nev.) recognize U.S. mining’s potential and the critical need to reform the current permitting policies. By elevating this issue in Washington, D.C., our legislators can work together to revitalize the United States’ mineral supplies and improve the efficiency of this process.