The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Protection Act of 2013 was introduced by U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei, (R-NV), and 28 cosponsors with the hopes that the bill will get past the Senate this time through.
The bill would streamline the permitting process for mining projects by coordinating the efforts of federal, state and tribal agencies. It aims to reduce red tape while also mainting the environmental review process.
Last year an identical bill was passed by the U.S. House but stalled in the Senate.
“In the 2012 ranking of countries for mining investment, the United States ranked last in permitting delays,” said Amodei, a past president of the Nevada Mining Association. “Duplicative regulations, bureaucratic inefficiency, and lack of coordination between federal agencies are threatening the economic recovery of my home state and jeopardizing our national security.”
“Nevada, which is rich in strategic and critical minerals, also has the highest unemployment rate in the nation,” he observed. “Decade-long permitting delays are standing in the way of high-paying jobs and revenue for local communities. This bill would streamline the permitting process to leverage our nation’s vast mineral resources, while paying due respect to economic and environmental concerns.”
Among the provisions in the 2013 National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act the Department of the Interior the Department of Agriculture will be required to more efficiently develop domestic sources of strategic and critical minerals and mineral materials, including rare earth elements.
It will define strategic and critical minerals as those that are necessary for national defense and national security requirements; for the nation’s energy infrastructure including pipelines, refining capacity, electrical power generation and transmission, and renewable energy production and those that support domestic manufacturing, agriculture, housing, telecommunications, healthcare and transportation infrastructure as well as those needed for the nation’s economic security and balance and trade.
National Mining Association CEO Hal Quinn said, “The U.S. mining industry applauds Re. Amodei for re-introducing this important legislation, which enjoys bi-partisan support and addresses a key issue for the country’s future economic growth and manufacturing revival.”
“The U.S. is blessed with abundant mineral wealth essential for our basic industries, our national defense and the consumer products we use,” Quinn noted. “Yet we are burdened by a painfully slow permitting process for the miners that produce these critical minerals.”
Amodei estimated it can take up to 15 years for agencies to issue permits to allow mineral mining work to begin. The bill will limit the total review process for issuing permits to 30 months unless signatories to the permitting timeline agree to an extension.
The bill also sets a 90-day time limit to file a legal challenge to an energy project, requires the venue for actions challenging the mining project to the judicial district to the judicial district where the project is located, and limits any preliminary injunctions to halt mining projects to 60 days unless the court finds clear reason to extend the injunction.