Coherent national mineral policy a must for U.S. manufacturing, Congress told – by Dorothy Kosich ( – July 24, 2014)

The lack of U.S. mineral supplies is stifling U.S. manufacturing and discouraging new technology development by miners and manufacturing, witnesses told a Congressional subcommittee hearing.

RENO (MINEWEB) – “America’s dependence on foreign nations for minerals is a choice. Our solution to our dependence isn’t a lack of resource; it is a lack of courage and commitment to produce the resources here,” declared Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Resources Wednesday.

During a subcommittee hearing to examine the domestic critical minerals supply and demand chain, U.S. rare earths advocate Lamborn declared, “It is a policy of the Obama Administration that is bent on destroying jobs in the mining industry, from vetoing approved coal mines in Appalachia, to pre-emptively vetoing mines which haven’t even been proposed in Alaska.”

“If we are legitimately concerned about rare earth minerals, we should be asking why it will take a decade to approve a mine in one of the world’s largest resources in Wyoming. Why are Obama Administration Forest Service employees actively lobbying communities in opposition to the rare earth mine?” Lamborn asked.

However, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, said his Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act of 2014 — which would have stepped up America’s exploration of critical elements — failed to pass a full vote of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday because of threats from what he called “extreme right-wing groups”. Nevertheless, Swalwell told Lamborn Wednesday he was willing to work with Lamborn and the subcommittee to get the U.S. “in the game” as far as having a domestic supply of rare earths.

Anthony Y. Ku, a senior scientist for manufacturing and materials technologies for GE Global Research, told the subcommittee, “GE believes legislation to promote the responsible removal of roadblocks to mineral exploration and development in the United States is an important step” in offering increased options in the U.S. raw materials supply chain for manufacturers.

Nevertheless, he cautioned, “While it is important to reduce delays in the mine-permitting process, GE also believes that any changes made must not weaken existing environmental protections.”

“Encouraging the development of domestic stocks of strategic and critical minerals is, along with parallel efforts that strengthen the entire supply chain, a necessary element of a coherent national policy to promote national economic well-being, national security, and global economic competitiveness,” Ku stressed.

Mark Fellows, director of consulting, SNL Metals and Mining, said a study done by SNL, which was commissioned by the National Mining Association earlier this year, revealed “a gross structural mismatch between mineral supply and demand; although the U.S. is a major mining country, it enjoys a much higher global ranking as a manufacturer, than as a miner.”

“Manufacturing activity is returning to U.S. soil, a phenomenon referred to as re-shoring,” said Fellows. “This is being driven by manufacturers’ desire to reduce the risks in their supply chains, which are highly complex, fragmented and multilayered, often extending to more than tiers of supplier for any given product.”

“Furthermore, U.S. consumers — and in turn, manufacturers and their shareholders — are increasingly concerned with corporate accountability,” he noted, adding, the “Made in U.S.A.” label is inherently reassuring to consumers.

SNL also discovered a number of competitive advantages of the U.S. mining industry, including exemplifying best practices with regard to productivity, sustainability and safety. “The U.S. remains highly prospective from a geological point of view, with abundant, diverse mineral resources of high quality,” Fellows observed.

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