January 12, 2021
As nations compete to lead the future of advanced energy, mineral...
By neglecting the strategic importance of cultivating a robust supply of minerals from within the U.S., our country is witnessing the emergence of vulnerabilities across nearly every sector of our economy. Other nations have made significant commitments and investments over the past decade to ensure supply chain stability and to gain leverage over key international markets.
Across every sector of our nation’s economy – communications, transportation, energy, healthcare, manufacturing and national security – minerals are at the forefront of supply chains and helping advance new innovations and drive economic growth.
Metals such as iron and molybdenum are used to make steel – needed for infrastructure improvements such as road building or the construction of new highways. Copper is critical to a host of U.S. manufacturing capabilities, new home and commercial construction, and modern communications technology.
In its current position of power, China controls the production of metals like cobalt, vanadium and graphite – essential metals to alternative energy, the digital economy and other high-technology applications where America has long been a leader. China is challenging this leadership, both in technological innovation and its control of mineral supply chains.
In order to remain the world’s high-tech leader, we must address our mineral import reliance and the vulnerabilities that exist in our national security, manufacturing, energy and medical supply chains.
The United States is home to a robust mining industry that has the potential to service global metal demands – and to do so in accordance with some of the world’s strongest environmental protections. Minerals and metals serve as inputs for nearly every industry. With a vast supply of metals worth an estimated $6.2 trillion, the United States is capable of much more than current policies will allow.
In 2019, the United States was 100 percent import reliant for 17 key mineral resources, and more than 50 percent import reliant for an additional 29. To reverse this alarming trend, the U.S. should lift unnecessary restrictions to mining by making more efficient permitting timelines and increasingly incentives for new mining operations. As the United States works to rebuild in the wake of economic turmoil spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers should first prioritize these mining concerns.