Posted on July 29, 2015 by Minerals Make Life
This week, National Mining Association’s President and CEO Hal Quinn was featured in Morning Consult commenting on Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R—Alaska) comprehensive energy bill, “Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015.” The bill includes provisions aimed to modernize the U.S. mine permitting process, which is currently impaired by protracted permitting delays. Including minerals mining permitting reform in Sen. Murkowski’s broad energy bill will help the U.S. unlock its vast mineral resources, which are critical to conventional and emerging energy technologies.
How are minerals and metals critical to advancing the U.S.’ energy technologies? Quinn explains:
“Minerals are vital to U.S. energy systems. From copper and nickel used in solar cells and wind turbines to molybdenum used in gas transmission pipes and beryllium in nuclear reactors, these minerals are invaluable to manufacturing conventional and emerging technologies that supply Americans with a diverse energy mix.”
The U.S. doesn’t fall short in terms of the minerals needed to support our energy infrastructure. In fact, it is home to more than $6.2 trillion worth of mineral resources that can sustain the energy sector’s high demand. However, because of the current mine permitting system, many of these critical resources remain locked underground. Currently, it takes a U.S. mine seven to 10 years on average to obtain the necessary permits to operate, while in countries like Canada and Australia, where there are similarly stringent environmental standards, it takes two to three years to obtain a permit. Quinn explains, “The delays in the domestic permitting process have resulted in the U.S. importing more than half of 43 key minerals and metals. To date, less than half of the minerals U.S. manufacturers use are sourced from domestically mined resources.”
What's more, 95 percent of manufacturing executives have cited delays in U.S. mine permitting as a number one concern. The drawn-out mine permitting process in the U.S. hinders manufacturers from getting the raw materials they need, forcing them to look outside our borders for critical minerals and metals.
Fortunately, Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s critical minerals provision in her energy bill, along with Rep. Mark Amodei’s (R—Nev.) National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015, is showing that steps are being taken in Congress to heighten this issue and move forward with legislation. Quinn states:
“It should be a top priority for Congress this session to implement policies that take advantage of our significant resource abundance in order to bolster our energy supply and strengthen the economy. A clear step toward achieving a comprehensive national energy policy is addressing the United States’ protracted and inefficient mine permitting system.”
Focusing on reducing America’s dependence on mineral imports and making the U.S. mine permitting process more efficient will allow us to support and sustain the energy sector’s increasing demand for minerals and metals.