Unlock U.S. Mineral Development: A Call to Action

Posted on March 27, 2024 by Minerals Make Life

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What You Need to Know:

  • The U.S. Department of Energy committed to provide Lithium Americas with the largest federal investment in lithium to date, showing promise for a domestic supply chain in America’s race to electrification.
  • South32 made its final investment decision to support the development of zinc at its Hermosa site in Arizona. The Hermosa project is the first U.S. mining project to be added to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41) permitting process, making it a case study in how streamlined permitting can unlock domestic resource production.
  • Permitting reform remains the industry’s longest stalemate in domestic mineral production. Policymakers and energy leaders at CERAWeek, one of the biggest global energy conferences, highlighted the need for federal legislators to address permitting challenges.

Letter From The President and CEO:

March Madness isn’t just for college basketball. The nation’s capital is experiencing its own “March madness” as federal agencies release new rules, regulations and programs in advance of the 2024 election. The sitting president wants to run for reelection on the tails of progress while federal regulators want to avoid the Congressional Review Act window, which allows Congress to roll back regulations implemented just before an election.

Specific to minerals mining, in the last month, the Biden administration:

  • Announced a conditional loan to Lithium Americas to support the development of its lithium processing plant, the largest federal investment in a lithium mine to date.
  • Released new restrictions on passenger car emissions to encourage the increased production of electric vehicles, which will drive mineral demands.
  • Announced a new series of loans to advance energy projects in key battleground states.

As the Biden administration pushes forward its energy priorities, supporting U.S. mineral extraction remains the best strategy to chip away at our overwhelming mineral import reliance. The latest findings from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reaffirm this imperative, highlighting the concerning trend toward a growing dependency on external sources for vital minerals, rather than domestic independence.

Our nation stands at a critical juncture. Decisions made today will profoundly impact our economic and national security tomorrow. U.S. policymakers must prioritize domestic minerals projects not only with loans and grants but with improved processes to move these projects from promising concept to production.

Consider South32’s Hermosa project, which will provide zinc, manganese and silver to U.S. manufacturers, and is the first mining project to undergo the federal review process as part of FAST-41. The company reports positive feedback thus far, which shows what’s possible in permitting. In fact, if we’re going to get serious about securing our supply chains for the essential metals and minerals we need, more minerals projects should be considered under FAST-41.

The U.S. sits on vast, untapped reserves of immense potential. From copper and gold to silver and zinc, America is home to rich resources that can be produced under world-leading environmental and labor standards. Leveraging these assets responsibly not only strengthens our supply chain resilience but also reinforces our global economic standing.

Realizing our mineral potential will require policymakers to address the cumbersome mine permitting process. Delays and bottlenecks in obtaining permits stifle innovation and deter investment in new mining projects. We must streamline these processes, facilitating timely approvals that foster growth and development in the mining sector.

By championing domestic mineral development and advocating for policy reforms, we can fortify our nation’s foundation and pave the way for a more resilient future.

Thank you,

Rich Nolan
NMA President and CEO

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