May 15, 2012
The Hill’s Congress Blog published a guest post today wri...
In a piece that appeared in The Hill this week, National Mining Association’s (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn highlighted the important contributions U.S. minerals and metals make to the our military and national defense. In particular, he explained how advanced military technologies keep Americans safe and our troops properly equipped. Quinn writes,
“The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) uses 750,000 tons of minerals each year in technologies that protect the very troops that protect our nation. Metals such as copper, lead and nickel are used in military gear, weapon systems and other defense technologies. Additionally, the mineral beryllium is used to reduce weight and improve guidance performance in fighter jets and NASA technologies such as the mirrors on the James Webb Space Telescope.”
Despite this demand, a lengthy, outdated federal permitting process makes accessing these important minerals increasingly challenging, and thus jeopardizes our military’s ability to meet its national defense needs. As Quinn outlines, the United States’ current mining permitting process “wraps our domestic mineral development in endless red tape, stifling investment in new and existing mines in the United States.” Obtaining a mining permit takes up to seven to 10 years, while in countries like Canada and Australia, it only takes two to three years. “As a result of our stagnant policies,” Quinn explains, “the U.S. military must look elsewhere to access these essential materials, increasing our import dependence and exposing our military to fragile supply chains with a higher potential for outside disruption.”
The United States is home to a mineral reserve base worth $6.2 trillion, and if our nation wishes to sustain its superiority in military technology, Congress must pass legislation to improve access to these essential, untapped minerals. Recently, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the “American Mineral Security Act of 2015,” which aims to modernize the U.S. mine permitting system and better prepare our country to meet the competitive challenges we face in sustaining our national defense and security.