The global pandemic continues to stall U.S. economic recovery. In February, the labor market showed signs of recovery but millions of Americans are still out of work as the economy lags. As policymakers take steps to support our economic recovery, President Biden issued an executive order to strengthen the resilience of America’s supply chains, focusing in part on the importance of minerals to U.S. energy, defense, healthcare, manufacturing and transportation sectors.
Implicit in this action is a clear recognition of the threat that currently exists. The President should be applauded for acting to protect against the exposure that exists in our energy, national security, manufacturing and medical supply chains given our overreliance on imports for the building blocks of these key industries.
According to the 2021 USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries report, the U.S. mineral import reliance has doubled over the past decade with the U.S. now 100 percent import-reliant for 17 key minerals and more than 50 percent import-reliant for an additional 29 key mineral commodities. This reliance exists despite the U.S. having significant mineral deposits here at home.
These vulnerabilities are also getting the attention of American voters. In polling conducted by Morning Consult late last month, 85 percent of voters of all political parties believe it is important for policymakers to focus on supporting responsible domestic mining here in the U.S. to secure our supply chains. Eighty-eight percent of voters said that it is important for policymakers to focus on supporting responsible domestic mining here in the U.S. to create American jobs. Eighty-seven percent of voters believe that, within the President’s “Buy American” initiative, it is important that the material supply chains many industries depend on – such as copper or lithium for electric vehicles – are also sourced from the U.S. These are big numbers and support extends across all political parties.
The American people and the President clearly recognize that we can’t import our way to economic and national security; we have to establish that security literally from the ground up by using American-mined materials produced by American workers under world-leading environmental standards. Addressing these supply chain issues can be an important first step as the administration and Congress plan a second economic recovery package that could include new infrastructure investments and other measures aimed at the energy transition and boosting U.S. manufacturing jobs. These are likely to include initiatives with the goals of building advanced energy infrastructure, moving the federal vehicle fleet to all electric vehicles and installing 500,000 new EV charging stations across the U.S.
Congress must do more to support mining in the U.S., where miners work under the strictest environmental standards and the mining industry creates stable, high-paying jobs at a time when our economy desperately needs them. Doing so will help bring back American manufacturing jobs and reestablish our country’s manufacturing sector using minerals sourced from American mines.
We will continue to work with the Biden administration and the various government agencies to address and implement the goals outlined in the executive order. But the progress cannot stop here. To truly fortify our domestic mining industry, President Biden and Congress need to make commonsense changes to the permitting policies and financial burdens currently restricting American mining companies.
Learn more about how mining can support U.S. economic recovery post-COVID-19.
NMA President and CEO