Copper: A Cornerstone Metal in U.S. Economy and Job Creation

Posted on December 17, 2015 by Minerals Make Life

Copper is a critical resource in the industrial world and drives economic growth in the U.S. But why is it an attractive resource to so many industries? It’s malleable, ductile composition and high resistance to corrosion make it a reliable, lasting material. Additionally, its high thermal and electrical conductivity make it a necessity in many of today’s technologies.

Copper is the third most used metal—ranking just after iron and aluminum. Copper is used in an array of applications, including building our infrastructure, high-tech products like computers and mobile devices and the equipment and vehicles that our troops rely on to keep America safe. The high demand of this important metal increases the need for its production, consequently generating job growth and providing significant contributions to local economies and the nation overall.

In 2013 alone, copper mining totaled $9 billion in value in states like Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Montana. In fact, copper is the cornerstone of Arizona’s state economy. In 2010, the state’s economy experienced a 31 percent increase from the prior year thanks to the 73,100 good paying jobs created by copper mining. These jobs not only added economic benefits for the state but also helped its citizens provide for their families.

Copper mining is also an important metal in Nevada. Nevada native, Laura Tennant, wrote in an op-ed published in the Reno Gazette-Journal that mining brought her county, “rays of sunshine when it comes to creating local jobs.” Tennant’s op-ed was published when the Pumpkin Hollow copper mine project was proposed—a plan that was expected to bring 800 jobs to a town suffering from high unemployment.

Copper is clearly a large contributor to job creation and economic growth, but the current mine permitting process continues to hinder its growth. A mine must secure the necessary permits in order for a project to begin, but this process can often take a decade. Additionally, our current permitting system is duplicative and adds burdensome costs and delays, which can decrease a mine’s value by one third.

Take action here to create a more efficient permitting process that will allow the U.S. and our nation’s miners to enjoy economic success, and allow our industries to continue to use copper to build the technology and products we rely on every day.

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