Mining was in the forefront of just about every policy discussion in 2022. To those in our industry, this doesn’t come as a surprise. The cornerstone of our economy, domestic mining secures supply chains, enhances national security, enables the technologies of the future, and keeps the lights on in our homes and businesses.
For many Americans the holiday season is marked by a shift in attention inward, away from the news and the daily grind, toward festive times spent at home with family and friends. It can be easy to forget the value of mining in the midst of our holiday celebrations but, in every activity, I encourage you to consider that the presents manufactured and shipped, lights illuminated, and homes warmed are all made possible by the products of mining.
Keeping the Lights on and Infrastructure Strong
If you’re wondering about coal’s relevance in your daily life, the case for coal could not have been stronger in 2022. We witnessed missteps at just about every turn as the international community continues to navigate its self-inflicted and challenging energy transition. The war in Ukraine led to the upending of energy markets and created threats of fuel shortages across Europe. Almost every grid operator here in the U.S. has flagged the dire long-term reliability concerns they have if the planned early retirements of coal-fueled power plants proceed. And we saw the need for and value of coal when skyrocketing natural gas prices and supply challenges hit consumers hard.
Connecting the Mineral Demand Dots
Similarly, in 2022, and even back to the beginning of the pandemic, Americans became intimately familiar with the fragility of our supply chains – and minerals’ role at the tip of most supply chains. Demand for minerals is only going to accelerate in the future, and in 2022, the Biden administration raised further awareness of the issue by using the Defense Production Act to support domestic battery minerals mining. It’s a good start, but much more must be done. Mineral processing capacity will need to increase 10-fold for our energy goals alone. To meet this need with domestic resources, we need mineral supply chains in place by 2035. As it stands today, it takes on average 10 years to permit a mine in America. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize now is the time to act.
A Focus on the Future
Mining sustains our daily lives and helps us produce many modern essentials. Computers, tablets and smartphones, for example, are built with more than 66 minerals. Our energy systems and natural resources heat our homes, turn on our kitchen ovens, charge our phones and illuminate our holiday gatherings. As we look to the future, we know there will be innovative changes and updates to infrastructure to keep up with the times. Through it all, mining will remain the foundation on which we build the next generation of systems and technologies. As we gather with friends and family this holiday season and the seasons to come, let’s remember that mining makes it all possible.