Why the U.S. Needs Mine Permitting Reform
May 23, 2023
Nearly two decades ago, the U.S. attracted almost 20 percent of t...
Did you know that many of the ingredients that bring iPhones to life are minerals? Minerals—including “rare-earth minerals” such as cerium, europium and neodymium, which are used to make the iPhone—are essential to many innovative products from wind turbines, hybrid cars and night-vision goggles to cellphones, laptops and lifesaving medical devices.
Last week, Jay Greene from CNET interviewed Molycorp Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith about the company’s Mountain Pass facility in California. The first of its kind in the United States, the innovative Mountain Pass facility will produce heavy rare-earth concentrate in an environmentally-friendly way.
The company, in direct competition with China’s rare-earth mineral mining industry—which accounts for approximately 97 percent of the world’s rare-earth minerals output—is endeavoring to modernize rare-earth mining. This move could encourage China to strengthen historically scant environmental laws thus reducing the ecological impact of the mining industry worldwide.
“[R]egulatory pressure, coupled perhaps with the market forces of the new Molycorp mine, could be the start of a cleaner rare-earth mining industry,” concluded Greene.
The United States is home to $6.2 trillion worth of key domestic minerals resources that will be vital to our nation’s ability to innovate and remain economically competitive for decades to come. With the appropriate regulatory environment, one that fosters efficient mining permitting, U.S. mining could lead the way towards a more innovative global future.