Permitting delays disqualify United States from competing for mining dollars

Posted on September 17, 2012 by Minerals Make Life

The global mining industry drives more than 45 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the United States is missing out on a big piece of that business.

AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cuifani said recently that nearly half of world GDP is generated either directly by mining or through the use of products that facilitate other industries.

But the United States is unable to compete with countries like Australia, Canada and China for many of those dollars.

This is because, unlike many of our competitors, our nation’s outdated minerals mining permitting process is riddled with needless delays, which sometimes stall projects for up to 10 years. The United States is ranked as having the most permitting delays of 25 top mining countries. This is the primary reason why investors avoid U.S. minerals mining and instead fund projects elsewhere.

Permitting delays have resulted in our nation’s share of global investment in metals mining declining dramatically over the last 20 years, falling from 21 percent in 1993 to roughly 8 percent today.

There is no doubt that the inefficient U.S. permitting process and our inability to compete for mining dollars affects our nation’s overall competitiveness. And the World Economic Forum recently reported that United States’ ability to compete on the global stage has fallen for the fourth year running.

Earlier this year, Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Albanese said that a series of bureaucratic obstacles, including permitting delays, constantly stand in the way of his firm doing business—and creating jobs—in the United States.

“I think there is an opportunity for a job revival in the mining sector in the U.S.,” said Albanese, “but we have to tackle the true, deep challenge.” To benefit from the economic growth mining so clearly offers, United States needs to follow the lead of nations like Canada and Australia who have prioritized the establishment of modern, efficient mining permitting processes and forward-looking minerals policies.

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