America’s mining policy undermines national security – by Jeff A. Green (The Hill – December 14, 2017)

Jeff A. Green is president and founder of J.A. Green & Company, a bipartisan government relations firm based in Washington D.C.

After nearly two decades of war, the American military must address a readiness crisis. Both Congress and the Trump administration are working to rebuild the military’s front-line forces. But readying America’s industrial base to support the force of the future requires further action.

The Department of Defense should be gravely concerned that disruptions in America’s mineral supply chain could undermine our national security. The U.S. military uses 750,000 tons of minerals each year to keep our country and troops safe. However, the U.S. is now entirely reliant on other countries for at least 20 minerals needed to build fighter jets, engines, radar, missile defense systems, satellites, precision munitions and other key technologies.

These key minerals enable the “overmatch” that Secretary of Defense James Mattis demands, which ensures we can not only win any war, but win it in overwhelming fashion.

Today there is not a single U.S. mine producing cesium, manganese, gallium, fluorspar or graphite. And for many key commodity minerals, the level of dependence on foreign supplies is worryingly high: zinc (82 percent), tin (75 percent), cobalt (74 percent), platinum (73 percent) and lithium (50 percent). Our country is sleepwalking into the same level of dependence on imported minerals that there once was for oil — which became an Achilles’ heel for energy security.

Ironically, the U.S. has vast, untapped resources that could support our economic and national security. Unfortunately, the mine permitting process in this country is outdated and redundant, creating a self-inflicted wound that must be healed.

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