LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Let U.S. minerals shine

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Susan Crabtree’s article, “Obama touts improving jobs figures in economic speech in Texas” (Web, May 9) reports that during his “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour” the president hopes to build support for spending a billion dollars on job-growth programs. We in the mining sector propose an alternative opportunity that doesn’t require government funding: streamlining America’s permitting process so that the rich resources we have here at home are available to supply the needs of U.S. manufacturers. The “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013” of Rep. Mark E. Amodei, Nevada Republican, would do just that.

With one of the world’s largest mineral repositories and reserves of more commodity minerals and metals than any other country, the United States could supply much-needed minerals to domestic industries. And yet less than half the minerals U.S. manufacturers use come from domestically mined resources, leaving manufacturers dependent on foreign sources to meet the majority of their mineral needs.

Minerals and metals — such as copper, zinc, platinum, molybdenum and nickel, to name a few — play a significant role in supplying the industries that are revitalizing the manufacturing sector. Those states identified as the largest contributors to the 500,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs added since 2010 have expanded industries including the automotive, heavy machinery, medical equipment, aerospace and energy sectors, each heavily dependent on minerals and metals to make their products.

A 2011 PricewaterhouseCoopers report revealed that 73 percent of automotive industry CEOs have businesses that face minerals and metals scarcity. The same concern applies to 78 percent of high-tech industry CEOs and 50 percent of aviation CEOs.

Unfortunately the United States is tied for last with Papua New Guinea in mine-permitting delays. Behre Dolbear Group Inc.’s annual survey of the top 25 countries for mining-investment attractiveness found that the U.S. permitting process took an average of seven to 10 years, while it takes only two to three years in Canada and Australia.

Our continued dependence on imports of critical minerals threatens our global competitiveness. Let’s address this solvable problem by urging the administration and Congress to support mining-permitting reform.

HAL QUINN

President and CEO

National Mining Association

Washington, D.C.

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