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Rare earths and critical minerals bills approved by U.S. House
May 16, 2013

The U.S. House Natural Resource Committee approved two bills, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 (H.R. 761) and the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 (H.R.1063), on May 15.

Both bills are aimed at the development of rare earths and critical minerals in the United States.

Approved on a 24-17 committee vote, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 (H.R. 761) requires the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to more efficiently develop domestic resources of the minerals and mineral materials of strategic and critical importance to United States economic and natural security and manufacturing competitiveness.

Sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), the bill would limit the length of delays to permit new mining projects. It would set time limits for the peer-review process. It also limits the types of civil actions relating to exploration and mine permits, which can be filed against a federal agency.
The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 (H.R.1063), sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). The bill addresses the lack of a coherent national policy to assure domestic availability of minerals essential for the national economic well-being, national security and global economic competitiveness in the United States.

The measure calls for the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce and the heads of other appropriate federal agencies to prepare a report that includes an inventory of the non-fossil-fuel mineral potential and lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service and determine which lands have been withdrawn, segregated, or otherwise restricted from mineral exploration and development.

The report also calls for an assessment of the mineral requirements to meet current and emerging national security, economic, industrial manufacturing, technological, agricultural, and social needs; the nation’s reliance on foreign sources to meet needs; and the implications of mineral supply shortages or disruptions.

The bill also calls for a detailed description of the time required to process mineral applications, operating plans, licenses, permits and other authorizations for mineral-related activities under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.

The report will also be required to assess the impact of litigation on processing or issuing mineral exploration permits, as well as conduct an assessment of the federal workforce with education degrees and expertise in economic geology, geochemistry, mining, industrial minerals, metallurgy, metallurgical engineering and mining engineering.

An inventory of rare earth element potential on federal lands and impediments or restrictions on the exploration or development of rare earth deposits will also be contained in the report.

The bill mandates the first National Mineral Assessment conducted after the date of enactment of the act to be conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey for mineral assessments of those commodities important to the nation’s energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and agricultural industries and to national defense.

The U.S. Geological Survey will also be required to expand its current Global Mineral Assessment to include rare earth elements and other critical minerals.

 

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