May 28, 2014
In honor of Memorial Day this past weekend, the minerals mining...
After last night’s Republican presidential debate, it is clear that national security is a key topic driving a great deal of political conversations and shaping candidates’ agendas. What people may not be aware of is the importance minerals mining to our national defense and how access to minerals is crucial for a more secure America. In fact, just last week, USA Brigadier General John Adams, president of Guardian Six Consulting, explained the importance that rare earth minerals have on our military technologies:
“Our military’s job is to be prepared for potential conflict. It cannot ignore the risk of future conflict with China by turning a blind eye to its vulnerable supply chains. REEs [Rare earth elements] are essential components of modern, high-tech electronic equipment. They enable the high-tech magnets used in everything from iPhones to Joint Direct Attack Munitions and the white-noise-concealment stealth technology used for helicopter rotors. Even our military’s ships and aircraft depend on REEs for motor components.”
Furthermore, National Mining Association’s (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn explained in April, “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 minerals are among the most important components that make up the technologies protecting our nation. However, in order for the U.S. to promote access to them, a more efficient mining permitting policy needs to be put in place.
Currently, our inefficient mine permitting process has contributed to our inability to access these critical materials and has further increased our dependence on foreign nations in order to meet the high demand. It is stalling our technological innovation and is affecting our country’s stance as a global leader in military technology. As Adams states, “We need a national policy to address our dependence on foreign supply chains for REEs. Despite statements and reports from a number of federal departments and agencies, the United States has no coherent policy to address risks to the REE supply chain.”
And REEs are just the tip of the iceberg. Minerals and metals such as copper, lead and nickel are used in military gear, weapon systems and other defense technologies. Additionally, beryllium is an integral component of surveillance technologies used in weaponry that detects and destroys improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and tactical minefields; military helicopters; armor for military vehicles; and advanced communication technologies.
To respond at a moment’s notice to global threats, we will need a steady supply chain of minerals to meet our defense needs. We need today’s leaders to recognize minerals’ importance and enable the U.S. to be more self-reliant and less dependent on foreign minerals. Take action to help support our defense needs here.