The U.S. mining permitting system “is a formula of inefficiencies, duplications and lack of capital,” suggests National Mining Association President Hal Quinn.
LAKE TAHOE, NEVADA (MINEWEB) – “Poor public policy is affecting (U.S.) mining across the board,” National Mining Association President Hal Quinn told the Nevada Mining Association convention over the weekend at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.
“Public lands in this country are either off-limits or highly restricted to mineral development,” Quinn observed. To compound the growing deficit of mineral supplies in the U.S., domestic mining supplies only 50% of mineral needs in this country, he noted.
The most persistent challenge U.S. mining faces is a domestic regulatory bureaucracy that resembles “a third-world permitting system,” Quinn asserted. The regulatory bureaucracy is partly responsible for the decline of the global ranking of U.S. mining production to seventh.
The U.S. permitting system is “a formula of inefficiencies, duplications and lack of capital” in which it normally takes 7 to 10 years to permit a mine, Quinn suggested, observing that other countries with strong environmental ethics can permit a mining project within two to three years.
“Never mistake the length of review for [U.S. mining permit applications] for the rigor of the review,” Quinn said.
Among the other policy challenges miners and prospectors working in the U.S. encounter include changes in what constitutes the waters of the U.S.; a possible listing of the sage grouse as an endangered species; increasing land withdrawals from mining; the EPA’s increasing use of the Clean Water Act to veto mining project permits; Clean Air Act Ozone Standards; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) mining project financial assurance; new definitions of fill material; dirt taxes; and particulate matter.
As an example, Quinn warned that the Environmental Protection Agency may redefine some of the materials they consider fill materials, which could result in more mining project vetoes under the Clean Water Act.
Quinn advised that 2015 is going to be “a make or break year” for the Obama Administration to get their regulatory agenda adopted.
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