Washington, D.C. – In testimony today before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, National Mining Association (NMA) President & CEO Hal Quinn urged strong congressional support for the “Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012” (H.R. 4402), sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.):
“H.R. 4402 tackles one of the highest hurdles for domestic mining: permit delays. The length, complexity and uncertainty of the permitting process are the primary reasons investors give for not investing in U.S. minerals mining,” Quinn told the subcommittee.
“Delaying permits for mining projects is not a new problem,” said Quinn. “What is new is the growing awareness of its implications for our nation, particularly in a highly competitive world economy in which the demand for minerals continues to grow, especially in fast growing economies led by China and India.”
Citing studies and reports by the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council, consultancy Behre Dolbear, the U.S. Geological Survey, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and the U.S. Department of Energy that all point to the harmful outcomes of the current permitting process for domestic minerals projects, Quinn summarized, “If U.S. mining cannot perform to its potential, the industry will become increasingly marginalized, and there will be severe consequences for our global competitiveness as we become more reliant upon extended and unstable supply chains for what we can produce here.”
Quinn pointed to Canada and Australia as examples of governments that had taken the necessary steps to modernize their permitting regimes without changing environmental and other protections. He said, “H.R. 4402 will bring the U.S. in line with our competitors for minerals exploration investments.” While Canada maintains approximately a two-year permitting timeline and Australia slightly under 22.5 months, the U.S. averages seven to 10 years for similar projects. As a result, said Quinn, Australia attracted 13 percent of worldwide minerals exploration dollars last year and Canada 18 percent—compared to the U.S. share of 8 to 9 percent over the last few years.
More importantly, Quinn concluded, “We need assertive measures such as those provided by H.R. 4402 to reverse a 30-year trend of increasing import reliance for materials we have here at home and lend a much-needed hand to the industries that put Americans back to work.”
The permitting improvements outlined in H.R. 4402 mirror recommendations and ideas advanced by the President’s Jobs Council, the Council on Environmental Quality guidance for a more efficient National Environmental Policy Act process, and best practices of other countries.