The U.S. is in trouble. After decades of outsourcing our mineral needs, our reliance on imported minerals and metals is coming back to haunt us. Business as usual exposes the U.S. to years of supply chain shortages and disruptions at a time of fierce global competition for supplies.
Despite an estimated $6.2 trillion in mineral reserves, America imported $90 billion worth of minerals in 2021 alone and recent findings from Bank of America show that international investment in new mining projects (CAPEX) is far below where it should be to meet expected mineral demands for our energy future.
It’s clear the White House and Congress are aware of these challenges as recent fact sheets and assessments detail, but more action is needed. Yet the White House continues to entertain harmful changes to U.S. mining law, allowing additional restrictions on mineral rich lands and even revoking permits for important minerals projects in the U.S.
What can be done? The challenges we face today are complex and can’t be solved overnight. There are steps policymakers can take right now to improve the situation and support U.S. minerals mining. The most important is to do no harm. Some Members of Congress are proposing duplicative and overreaching regulations and punitive fees on minerals mining that would deter future mining projects.
Policymakers must support proactive, commonsense efforts to establish a comprehensive minerals strategy for the U.S. In late February, the Department of Interior formed an Interagency Working Group (IWG) on minerals mining to solicit feedback from experts and various stakeholders on reforms to mining laws, regulations and permitting. The group’s recommendations are intended to support potential rulemaking efforts to “help support President Biden’s vision for a whole-of-government effort to promote the sustainable and responsible domestic production of critical minerals.” The IWG is accepting comments through the end of the summer on what reforms will best serve the interests of all Americans.
The National Mining Association is recommending these – and many other steps – as areas of focus to improve the process of delivering the minerals necessary for our economy:
The U.S. is at a crossroads. One path policymakers can take will deliver the minerals our economy needs for the future thoughtful energy transition under world-leading environmental standards from U.S. sources. The other path involves self-imposed obstacles that will obstruct U.S. minerals mining and make our country more reliant on foreign minerals, weaken our economy and make us even more susceptible to geopolitical instability.
The U.S. mining industry is ready to support President Biden’s sustainability goals through responsible production of critical minerals.