May 02, 2012
The Oregonian reported this week on the decrease in mining inve...
In May, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) released a report, “Remaking American Security: Supply Chain Vulnerabilities & National Security Risks Across the U.S. Defense Industrial Base.”
The report—which coincides with a recent decline in U.S. manufacturing activity for the first time since November—emphasizes that America’s manufacturing resurgence is reliant on the ability to secure the metals and minerals essential to today’s advanced technologies including medical devices, computers and cell phones and the vehicles we rely on every day.
Earlier this year, Behre Dolbear ranked the U.S. as last in the world for permitting delays and the AAM agrees:
“No country has such a cumbersome and impenetrable authorization process as the United States which receives the lowest rating for a ‘mine-friendly’ business environment among advanced industrialized countries,” said the report. “While seven to 15 years is the standard for bringing a mine into production in the United States, Australia and Canada can complete the process in two to four years. Thus, the U.S. federal government and Congress will have to reform the permit process to expedite the opening mines that hold promising critical of minerals.”
In addition to the devices that we as civilians use every day, minerals are of the utmost importance to our national defense. It is increasingly recognized that minerals are central to modern defense preparedness.
In the past 30 years, U.S. companies have increasingly relied on imported raw materials, even for resources we have here at home. In 1978, the U.S. was completely import-reliant on only 7 minerals—by 2011 that number was up to 19 minerals.
AAM also points out that “…in the past, a global abundance of minerals has been more than able to meet U.S. demand. However, as mineral producing countries begin to consume more of their domestic production to fuel their own growing economies, the quantities in the global marketplace have decreased…Furthermore, many minerals are mined in only a few countries (some of which are politically unstable), exposing the United States and other importing countries to potential supply restrictions and other risks.”
This report is a reminder that without a streamlined permitting process, the manufacturing supply chain will remain cloaked in uncertainty and, in turn, stifle the economic growth that we so desperately need.