December 09, 2013
Last month, I sat down with Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the...
Today we are featuring a guest blog post by Gareth Hatch, founding principal of Technology Metals Research, LLC., who recently completed a radio media tour focused on the importance of minerals to the economy and the need to reform the U.S. mining permitting process.
Minerals and metals are essential, irreplaceable components of the U.S. way of life. Silver, platinum, iron ore and copper—to name a few—inspire the innovation of new technologies, fuel U.S. manufacturing and are vital to our national security. However, in order to ensure that our economic, manufacturing and national security needs are met, a more coherent minerals and metals-mining policy is necessary.
According to National Mining Association’s estimates, the U.S.A. is home to more than $6.2 trillion worth of key mineral resources. U.S. reliance on imported minerals has more than doubled in the past 30 years, putting our key industries at risk. For example, the Department of Defense, uses nearly 750,000 tons of minerals each year in its defense platforms, the aerospace industry uses uses a wide array of minerals to optimize aircraft capabilities and power their engines and advanced energy technologies, such as electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines, rely on minerals and metals. Without these raw materials, many of these products would cease to function.
Because of the lack of a coherent minerals policy in the U.S.A., U.S. domestic manufacturers—80 percent of whom stressed the importance of sourcing minerals and metals domestically—are forced to secure roughly half of their minerals from foreign countries. In fact, just last year, the U.S.A. imported more than $27 billion worth of minerals to meet its manufacturing needs. This import dependence subjects our minerals supply chain to disruption risk, threatens U.S. security and innovation and gives nations with established minerals policies an upper hand in policy negotiations.
Fortunately, there is a growing recognition amongst policymakers that reforming our current mining policy is crucial. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chair of the Senate Energy Committee, recently introduced the “American Mineral Security Act of 2015” to secure the nation’s mineral supply chain and reduce its growing dependence on imported minerals critical for manufacturing industries. Last week, this bill was heard before the Senate committee, in which testimonies were presented to demonstrate that reforming the current U.S. mining permitting policy is vital to the nation’s economy and its manufacturing industry. Similarly, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) introduced his “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015” last month, which will modernize the current U.S. mining permitting process and allow for access to the trillions of dollars’ worth of resources we have here at home.
In order for our nation to enjoy economic growth, support domestic manufacturing, attract global investment dollars and help our military source the thousands of tons of minerals it requires annually, policymakers must create and pass policies that enable the United States to be more self-reliant and less dependent on minerals imports by allowing access to our own resources.
Gareth Hatch is founding principal of Technology Metals Research, LLC.