NMA’s President and CEO: “Move Our Nation’s Mineral Policy into the 21st Century”

Posted on July 15, 2015 by Minerals Make Life

This week, National Mining Association’s president and CEO, Hal Quinn, is featured in The Hill commenting on SNL Metals & Mining’s pivotal new study, “Permitting, Economic Value and Mining in the United States.” As Quinn explains, the study quantifies how delays in U.S. mine permitting negatively impact the U.S. mining industry and our economy:

“The study suggests that an average mine can lose a third of its value due to permit delays, and in some cases, a mine's value can be cut in half as a result of increasing costs and investment risk. After years of delays, a project can even become economically unviable.”

U.S. minerals mining is the cornerstone of many industries. From our defense, energy, medical and automotive industries, minerals and metals are vital to the manufacture of many modern technologies. But the U.S. mine permitting process is a duplicative and bureaucratic process, fraught with protracted delays and inefficiencies. Under the current process, it takes seven to 10 years to start a new mining project in the U.S. In comparison, other developed nations like Canada and Australia, which have equally stringent regulations and environmental standards, only take two to three years to complete the process. Due to exhaustive delays in mine permitting process these industries are subject to costly disruptions to their mineral supply chains, which can affect U.S. manufacturing and our economy.

“From an economic perspective, the study's results further support the need for permitting reform to allow domestic manufacturers access to our vast mineral resources. The only things standing in the way of U.S. mines meeting demand for minerals, Mark Fellows, the author of the study, testified, are bureaucratic and protracted permitting delays. ‘This inefficient permitting system has partially blocked the pipeline along which projects advance to become productive mines,’ Fellows said. SNL found that although mining companies continue to invest in exploration, an ever-greater proportion of projects are stuck in the earlier phases of development.”

The lengthy permitting process in the U.S. also comes at a great cost to potential investors. The study cites several examples like Alaska’s Kensington gold mine, which illustrates how investment dollars may be steered away from putting new mining projects into production. Diminishing investment in future mining projects can ultimately lead to an unreliable domestic mineral supply chain and it jeopardizes the U.S. manufacturing renaissance, making mine permitting reform critical. Thankfully, legislation has been introduced both in the House and the Senate that aims to modernize the current U.S. mining permitting process and supports better access to the trillions of dollars worth of resources we have here at home. On the crucial need for mine permitting reform, Quinn writes:

“Now is the time to move our nation's mineral policy into the 21st century with policies that enable economic growth and competitiveness by allowing manufacturers and other economic sectors timely access to a secure and stable minerals supply chain.”

Click here to read more of Hal Quinn’s commentary on this report, and learn more about the report here.

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