As we move forward in 2018, it is important to take a look at the past year in the mining community.
2017 was an important year for the mining industry, with many companies seeing negative trends stabilize and positive trends build. There have been hurdles, but it reminds us of the importance of the work that we do to educate policymakers about the importance of mining to virtually every other industry in the U.S.
After several difficult years for the coal industry, 2017 saw a positive shift occur with a new administration and Congress willing to examine regulations that unfairly targeted coal. It is now recognized that more regulation is not always the answer, and not all regulations are good ones. We regained a seat at the table, and were able to have honest discussions about the harmful impacts of regulations that carried no tangible benefits and proposals that were actively demolishing the coal industry – the backbone of American energy production.
With key regulations like the Stream Protection Rule, the Clean Power Plan and Power Plant Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs) under review or withdrawn, the steep job and production losses experienced since 2011 have stabilized.
As a result, we anticipate that we’ll see our market share hold steady at about 30 percent. Production is up, and exports were up more than 65 percent this year when our main customers in the EU and Europe took more U.S. coal and China imported more coal.
On the minerals and metals side, industry welcomed the news from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it would not be imposing additional, duplicative and unnecessary financial assurance requirements on the industry. And the year ended on a positive note when President Trump signed Executive Order (EO) 13817, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.” The EO was preceded by the release of a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report, “Critical Mineral Resources of the United States,” and was followed by the issuance of a DOI Secretarial Order on “Critical Mineral Independence and Security.” The confluence of these events was encouraging. The administration correctly identified as a strategic priority the nation’s domestic minerals and metals, which serve as the front end of the supply chain for American prosperity and security.
Finally, on Jan. 2, NMA announced that all 29 companies participating in its CORESafety® system closed 2017 with zero fatalities.
Looking at the prior year and all the activity we have seen from this administration and Congress it is clear that mining is a priority. At NMA, we are determined to work to ensure that it remains a priority so the positive momentum we enjoyed in 2017 continues in 2018.