February 13, 2024
The United States faces deep, ongoing vulnerabilities in its mine...
Amid a growing need for materials deemed critically important in the production of a multitude of commercial products ranging from cell phones and laptops to flat televisions and batteries for electric vehicles, one of the enigmas is how the United States can ignore its growing dependence on imported minerals and metals.
Our country is 100 percent import-reliant on 18 minerals and metals considered “critical” by the defense or interior departments. And more than 50 percent reliant on many more minerals and metals. These materials are the key to the entire clean energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. With the production of more wind turbines and solar panels, competition between countries for scarce minerals and metals will become intense.
Despite the enormous stakes, nothing has been done to make America’s own minerals on public lands more accessible to mining companies. A badly flawed permitting process is the problem, requiring companies to wait seven to ten years or more to get government approval to mine on public lands. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, has introduced a bill with bipartisan support to expedite the licensing process. Should it succeed, American minerals mining would get a big boost.