Kelly Norton is the President of the Arizona Mining Association.
“Reforms proposed for the Mining Law will not fix the challenging legacy mine situation in the U.S. but will instead distract policymakers from effective solutions.
“The mining industry is not opposed to a royalty on new mines provided it sustains a competitive environment for U.S. mines, the mining economy and the employment it supports, and is coupled with a timely and efficient permitting process.
“Legislative initiatives proposing punitive royalties on new mining will only kill investment, jobs, and local revenue generated by modern mining.
“Modern mining is a highly regulated industry unlike the by-gone era when exhausted mines were not regulated and simply abandoned. Post-mining reclamation and restoration is a requirement of modern mining and includes both state and federal regulations.
“The current legislation includes royalties that would be among the highest in the world. Destroying the revenue base for modern mining and the engineering expertise it supports will not make more money or resources available for addressing these legacy sites. A royalty on existing mine projects would be moving the goalposts by changing the financial assumptions which were used in the initial project investments.
“If congress really wants to do something to help they should pass legislation to empower all stakeholders to help clean legacy mines. Current law effectively prohibits voluntary efforts to clean up old legacy mines. Community organizations including conservation groups and mining companies who are interested in using their expertise to remediate legacy mine sites could be held liable for any environmental damage that results.
Volunteers, “Good Samaritans” will not put themselves at risk for damages stemming from a problem they did not create. Protection from this legal liability will incentivize miners, conservationists, and local communities to use their expertise to clean up these legacy mine sites.”