President Joe Biden delivered his annual State of the Union address touting his efforts to stabilize the economy, improve our nation’s infrastructure and jumpstart advanced energy projects across America. The President pointed out rebuilding U.S. manufacturing and securing our energy supply chains as early successes, and announced a new requirement that all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects be ‘made in America.’
What was not included in the President’s speech was the fact that our mineral supply chains – which serve as the very foundation of virtually every supply chain – are more reliant on foreign entities than ever before. To fully be “made in America,” every federal infrastructure project to modernize our roads, bridges and ports and even those to build a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations should use U.S.-sourced minerals. Mined materials such as iron ore, limestone, copper and nickel are key to building our nation’s roads and bridges, power generation plants, clean water facilities and electric vehicles.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. is over 50 percent import reliant for 51 minerals, which is up from 47 minerals the year before. Furthermore, we are 100 percent reliant on imports for 15 minerals, 12 of which are listed on the USGS’ 2022 Final List of Critical Minerals. To make matters worse, the U.S. is more reliant on China for minerals than any other country.
Despite a great deal of talk from the Biden administration and Congress, very little is being done in Washington to address these crises of our own making. Recent polling shows Americans want action. Maru Public Opinion found six in 10 Americans (62 percent) support streamlining the mine permitting process to advance domestic mining efforts. America’s permitting process is rife with duplication, delays and inefficiencies that commonsense reforms could improve.
America needs minerals to modernize our infrastructure and develop advanced energy infrastructure. Minerals like copper, nickel and lithium are key to building electric vehicles (EVs), and wind turbines and solar panels that will help us meet our energy goals.
Rather than paying billions of dollars every year to import minerals we could be mining ourselves, we should be approving U.S. mines where minerals will be developed under world-leading environmental standards and creating more American jobs in accordance with the world’s highest labor practices.
Despite claims to prioritize made in America or mined in America, the President is taking bold steps to block mining across the U.S. This was proven by the recent federal withdrawal of 225,000 acres of mineral-rich land in Minnesota and the administration’s decision to move forward with new mines overseas.
America can no longer afford to sit in the backseat. It’s time for us to pass mine permitting reform and put the U.S. back in the driver’s seat, ensuring American-mined minerals deliver on our infrastructure and energy commitments.
NMA President and CEO