US House of Representatives passes Minerals Act

first_imgIn a bipartisan vote of 256 to 160, the US House Republicans has passed HR 4402, the National Strategic and Critical Mineral Production Act of 2012. This legislation is seen by some in the industry as long overdue, however, its safe passage through the US Senate is very unlikely due to staunch Democratic opposition. It is controversial, as it is seen by some as effectively elevating mining above all other uses of public lands, like grazing, recreation, fishing and other activities.It would allow the federal government discretion to withdraw its environmental reviews of mining projects and accept state reviews instead. It would also curtail the time for environmental reviews by limiting the review period to 30 months unless mining companies and the government agreed to an extension. While it has wide support for the promotion of more rapid development of materials such as rare earths in the US, for other less scarce and less strategic materials, some feel it is unnecessary.The following is the official supporting statement released by the National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn upon the passage of the Act on July 12:“The ‘National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act’ approved today by a bi-partisan vote in the House would establish a 21st Century permitting system for US mining and prepare us for the 21st Century challenges of minerals supply chain reliability and security. While few countries can rival the US when it comes to an abundance of mineral resources, we remain cursed with a third-world permitting system that discourages investment and the downstream industries, related jobs, innovation and technology that depend on a secure and reliable mineral supply chain.”“Rep Mark Amodei (R-Nev) and his colleagues have carefully and credibly addressed the pitfalls of our current outdated and underperforming permitting system by providing efficient, timely and thorough permit reviews and by incorporating best practices for coordination among state and federal agencies, clarifying responsibilities, avoiding duplication, setting timeframes and bringing more accountability to the process. These are all steps other resource-rich countries such as Australia and Canada have already taken and are consistent with President Obama’s executive order to streamline the permitting process for infrastructure projects-all of which rely upon a ready supply of the very materials HR 4402 addresses.” “Our dependence on mineral imports has doubled over the past 20 years.  Today, less than half of the mineral needs of US manufacturing are met from domestically mined minerals. These trends will only get worse if we do not advance policies that enable US mining to perform to its potential. Other countries have clearly demonstrated the willingness and urgency to act to meet the challenges of a new global reality in which demand for mineral resources will soar while supplies become increasingly difficult to obtain. We must do so as well, otherwise we place our long term economic growth and security at risk. NMA urges continued support for this important and far-sighted legislation.”last_img

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