The Metals of American Infrastructure

Posted on July 07, 2020 by Minerals Make Life

Following the release of federal and state safety guidelines for reopening, policymakers are now turning their attention to plans that will reinvigorate the U.S. economy and return Americans to work. The White House recently issued an executive order to expedite infrastructure investments and other activities aimed at accelerating our economic recovery. The order directs federal agencies to take reasonable measures to address unnecessary regulatory delays, stating they “… deny our citizens’ opportunities for jobs and economic security, keeping millions of Americans out of work and hindering our economic recovery from the national emergency.”

America’s mining sector has expressed support for the recent announcement as infrastructure does not exist without mining. In fact, our economic recovery depends on a stable supply of minerals and metals that are essential to nearly every sector of our economy. Rich Nolan, President of the National Mining Association said the order is “an opportunity to jumpstart our economic recovery by ensuring that we are rebuilding and modernizing with American-made materials, equipment and jobs.”

The U.S. is home to vast supply of minerals and metals worth an estimated $6.2 trillion. These minerals and metals serve as inputs for nearly every industry – healthcare, manufacturing, technology and defense. Various metals such as iron and molybdenum are used to make steel – needed for any major undertaking such as road building or the construction of new highways. With metals like copper, outdated plumbing and electrical systems can be brought up to speed with modern society. Kyanite is a powerful insulator that is utilized in high transmission powerlines and railway systems. To properly build for a stronger future, massive amounts of metals are needed.

Despite being home to vast reserves, cumbersome regulatory and permitting processes contribute to the U.S. importing $6 billion in minerals from foreign countries each year. Because of this, the U.S. is completely import-dependent for 17 key minerals resources and more than 50 percent import-dependent for an additional 29 minerals.

At a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the impact of COVID-19 on mineral supply chains, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how delicate our supply chains are and that should be a wakeup call for all of us. Our job…is to rebuild our supply chains.”

To ensure our economic recovery and to put Americans back to work, we need strong domestic mineral supply chains. Without necessary reforms, the U.S. risks a protracted recovery with high unemployment. U.S. mining companies are ready to meet the needs of our industries and end our decade-long import reliance. An abundant supply of minerals exists within American soil but remains trapped behind convoluted regulations. Policymakers must work to reduce the lengthy permitting process and synthesize the duplicative reviews from regulatory bodies.

Learn more about the policies that are preventing America’s mining from reaching its full potential.

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