Hal Quinn is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Mining Association (nma.org), which advocates on behalf of America’s mining and minerals resources.
The economy is a top concern for state manufacturers who question whether Minnesota is a competitive state in which to do business, according to findings from Enterprise Minnesota’s fifth-annual “State of Manufacturing” report released in July.
The economy is a top concern for state manufacturers who question whether Minnesota is a competitive state in which to do business, according to findings from Enterprise Minnesota’s fifth-annual “State of Manufacturing” report released in July. Chief among the features state officials should be touting to anxious industry leaders is Minnesota’s vast mineral wealth, which — through sound reform of the federal mine-permitting process — could provide manufacturers with ready, reliable access to the raw materials upon which they rely.
That’s not to say there aren’t already thousands of Minnesotans working to develop some key state resources. Last year, more than $4.5 billion worth of minerals were produced in Minnesota, minerals crucial to high-tech devices, electro-medical equipment, advanced-energy components, defense technologies and infrastructure. As the nation’s leading producer of iron ore, Minnesota supplies about 65 percent of the iron needed for the blast-furnace steel sector in the United States, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
And it was just discovered that magnetite, the iron mineral found in taconite, dramatically can increase the speed of electronic circuitry, a finding that could lead to computers and machines thousands of times faster than they are today, and thus new opportunities for Minnesota’s $6.7 billion computer and electronic manufacturing industry.
Despite the boon existing iron ore operations provide, Minnesota has yet to come close to realizing the full economic potential of its mineral resources. This is because an outdated and duplicative federal permitting process for minerals mines deters investors from developing projects here and keeps valuable state resources locked in the ground.
The same is true across the U.S. Our nation holds more than $6.2 trillion worth of key minerals that are not being utilized in large part because investors are hesitant to jeopardize their investments in the face of America’s lengthy and uncertain permitting process. Investors instead seek out foreign mineral projects that can be swiftly approved. In the process they pour money into foreign work forces and offshore manufacturing operations.
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