Legislators in Washington, D.C., continue to debate the path forward on the President’s infrastructure bill, signaling it could be weeks before anything reaches the President’s desk to address our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. a C- in its latest infrastructure report card, citing how our country’s roads, bridges and tunnels are increasingly susceptible to catastrophic failure.
All around us, critical structures that support our roads, water systems and electricity grids are being pushed to the limit after years of deferred improvement projects. Worryingly, one in every three bridges on U.S. interstates is in need of rehabilitation or replacement. Take the I-40 bridge in Memphis, for example, which was closed in May for repairs after a large crack was found. The bridge is at the heart of Memphis’ local economy and is a key connector for east/west commerce. The I-40 bridge is just one of many structures that is in desperate need of an overhaul, and that will require vast amounts of mined materials to repair.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has been largely complacent with its growing mineral import dependence. Meeting our mineral demands now while addressing our alarming import reliance will require an all-of-the-above approach.
We must start by incentivizing new domestic production. One thing is certain: U.S. miners are ready to supply the minerals we need. Iron ore, copper, lithium, antimony and tellurium are essential to infrastructure improvements and advanced energy technologies and are available here in the U.S.
Freeport-McMoRan, Rio Tinto, and Hudbay are three companies with new copper mines ready to supply our growing needs. Lithium Americas and Standard Lithium are proposing new lithium mines that would supplement Albemarle Corporation’s Silver Peak Mine in Nevada, the only operating lithium mine in the U.S. Similarly, Perpetua Resources is proposing to mine antimony at their existing Stibnite Gold Mine in Idaho and Rio Tinto is planning to produce tellurium from its waste rock at Kennecott Mine in Utah.
These are just a few examples of new mines in the U.S. that can support our infrastructure and energy transition. But the longer we wait to act, the smaller our chances are of supplying our growing mineral needs. Policymakers need to act to strengthen our supply chains and encourage more domestic mineral production.
NMA President and CEO