February 13, 2024
The United States faces deep, ongoing vulnerabilities in its mine...
On Veterans Day, we recognize the men and women who bravely serve our nation. They keep us safe, and it’s essential that we keep them safe in return – by ensuring a stable supply of the minerals and metals necessary to produce the cutting-edge technologies they rely on.
Minerals are the backbone of advanced military equipment and technologies. For example, molybdenum is essential to the production of high-strength steel used for armored vehicles. Minerals such as manganese and zinc are critical to communications gear, while beryllium’s lightweight properties make it ideal for use in Apache helicopters and fighter jets. All told, the Department of Defense needs 750,000 tons of minerals and metals each year.
In addition to acting as the raw materials that produce key equipment and technologies, minerals are important to medical advancements that assist wounded veterans. Chromium is used in prosthetic limbs, making them lighter, and nickel is used in new robotic technologies that enable brain signals to control prosthetic devices. These advancements in prosthetics would not be possible without minerals.
Unfortunately, U.S. policy does not adequately address the military’s increasing need for mineral resources. Due to duplicative mine permitting processes, our reliance on imported minerals has doubled over the past two decades.
To put our import dependence in perspective, a U.S. Navy Seal today carries gear containing at least 23 mineral commodities for which the United States is more than 50 percent import reliant. But that doesn’t need to be the case.
Current permitting policies in the U.S. disincentivize investment, aggravating our import reliance. It should not take a decade to grant a mine permit in the United States. In countries like Australia and Canada, which have environmental standards on par with those in the U.S., it takes less than three years. Timely access to our wealth of mineral reserves is essential to securing our military supply chain. Sourcing minerals within the United States is good policy so that we never find ourselves without them during international conflicts.
U.S. policies must change to allow the mining sector to provide our military with the minerals they need when they need them.
To learn more about minerals and our national defense, check out our infographic.