Minerals and Metals Play a Key Role in Our National Defense

Posted on April 15, 2015 by Minerals Make Life

This week, president of the American Resources Policy Network, Daniel McGroarty, was featured in The Hill highlighting the Pentagon’s 2015 National Defense Stockpile Requirements Report and its focus on the need for critical minerals. The report projects several “shortfalls” that the United States could face in various metals and minerals; however, many of the minerals listed are by-products of copper mining. McGroarty explains,

“Copper – like nickel and zinc – is a kind of gateway metal, providing access to other elements present in concentrations too minor to mine in their own right.  Close the door on copper production, and you’re making a difficult situation far worse for national defense planners tasked with securing reliable supplies of critical metals.  Given that every crisis is a come-as-you-are event – your options are only as strong as your prior planning – failure today to provide reliable sources of supply will translate into battlefield loses [sic] in some unwished-for future.”

Copper is the second most widely used material by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), as it is widely found in modern naval vessels, U.S. Coast Guard ships, Air Force aircrafts, military gear, weapon systems and other defense technologies. In fact, just last week, National Mining Association’s (NMA) President and CEO, Hal Quinn stated, “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.” Because of this high demand, it is clear that access to these minerals means a more secure America.

And in 2013, the U.S. produced $9 billion worth of copper, but this year we will consume more copper than we produce due to hampered access to domestic reserves. In order for the United States to access the raw materials we need, a more efficient mine permitting policy needs to be put in place. Presently, our  lengthy and duplicative mine permitting process has contributed to our inability to extract these critical materials and has further increased our dependence on foreign imports in order to meet the high demand. It is stalling our technological innovation and is affecting our ability to sustain superiority in military technology. As McGroarty states, “It’s time for this debate to make room for a new thought: in our tech-driven world, metals access is a matter of national security.”

We need a steady supply chain of minerals to meet our defense needs and policies that enable the United States to be more self-reliant and less dependent on foreign minerals. To learn more about the Pentagon’s 2015 National Defense Stockpile Requirements Report, click here.

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