The hard cell: Minerals in a growing telecommunications industry

Posted on July 10, 2013 by Minerals Make Life

In April, we celebrated the 40th birthday of the cell phone, acknowledging Martin Cooper’s role in pioneering a mobile phone industry that now boasts more than six billion subscribers. While growth in the high-end smartphone market appears to be flat lining, the New York Times recently reported that they expect to see a Chinese surge in demand for phones that are less than $200:

“By contrast, sales of phones priced at less than $200 are expected to surge to 400 million units this year, from 234 million last year, with a further jump to 685 million in 2015, the firm says. The low end is growing faster because prices of smartphones have fallen so much that hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers are now able to replace old-fashioned feature phones that lack mobile data capabilities.”

This boom presents a tremendous economic opportunity for manufacturers.  With improved access to domestic mineral resources, U.S. minerals miners would stand to benefit from this surge in demand for inexpensive smartphones by supplying American manufacturers with a stable supply of the resources they need to meet that growing demand.

Unfortunately, our outdated, redundant mining permitting process causes investors to avoid U.S. minerals mining in favor of projects and workforces abroad. As it stands, the United States is already more than 50-percent dependent on imports for silver, titanium, cobalt, zinc, platinum, germanium and gallium—many of which are needed to manufacture today’s smartphones.

As TechCrunch recently reported, Motorola is taking advantage of a renewed desire for domestically manufactured products by marketing their newest cell phone as “Assembled in the USA.”

American manufacturers need to be able to compete, both domestically and abroad. We must pursue opportunities such as this to help revive our economy.

Learn more about America’s future right below our feet.

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