Manufacturing key to US economy – by Harry Moser (Masfield News Journal/USA Today – April 28, 2016)

Harry Moser is the Founder of the Reshoring Initiative.

One surprise of the current, tumultuous presidential election cycle is the degree to which manufacturing has emerged as a significant campaign issue. Candidates are now openly pledging to oppose trade agreements perceived as hurting the nation’s manufacturers. And while trade policy is only one aspect of the overall debate, it’s clear that candidates are recognizing manufacturing’s importance to America’s economy.

A quick glance at the nation’s industrial landscape tells a profound story: America has lost more than five million manufacturing jobs since 2000, with more than 50,000 factories closed. Several factors are involved, but one critical aspect remains overlooked—the connection between America’s mining industry and the health of the nation’s manufacturing base.

Metals and minerals are integral to the American standard of living. Thanks to not-so-small luxuries like cars, homes, roads, and electronics, young Americans today will depend in their lifetime on an estimated 27,416 pounds of iron ore, 978 pounds of copper, 521 pounds of zinc, and 1.8 ounces of gold.

And then there are the industries of tomorrow. For example, one wind turbine requires 8,000 pounds of copper. A hybrid car requires nine pounds of nickel, and the average electric vehicle battery contains nine pounds of lithium.

All of this means mining, and the countries that produce these minerals and metals will reap the benefits in terms of jobs and economic growth. In 2012, U.S. mines directly employed more than 630,000 workers, for wages totaling $46 billion.

The estimated value of mine production in 2015 exceeded $78.3 billion. America’s miners are busily extracting everything from copper, zinc, and gold, to silver, nickel, and iron — the very raw materials used by the nation’s manufacturers to produce auto parts, high-tech appliances, industrial machinery, and steel.

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