The United States is home to an estimated $6.2 trillion worth of mineral resources. The mining industry contributes about $13.6 billion in personal and payroll taxes and pays an estimated $40 billion in salary and wages each year, yet the nation ranks last in the world when it comes to permitting new mining projects.
Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn visited the headquarters of the Society for Mining Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) on Aug. 22 to speak to more than 25 mining executives about the permitting issues, and about some of the other issues that the mining industry is facing.
Lamborn, who also delivered the keynote address to the 2013 SME Annual Meeting in Denver, CO in February, is chairman on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources of the House Natural Resources Committee that oversees energy production and mining on federal lands.
During his talk at SME, he spoke about two bills that will be heard on the House floor in October that aim to strengthen and improve national minerals policy to assure domestic availability of minerals that are critical for national security and economic stability. The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013 (H.R. 761), requires the Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture to more efficiently develop strategic and critical minerals, such as rare earth elements that are vital to job creation, American economic competitiveness and national security. Lamborn also spoke about H.R. 1063, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 (H.R. 1063), the bill he sponsored that 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 Congressman also addressed oversight hearings that his subcommittee has held on abuse of the Endangered Species Act, pressures on coal mining nation-wide and the importance of mining jobs to the national economy.
Lamborn said environmental groups have used the Endangered Species Act as one of the ways to halt development. “There has been an abuse of the act that goes against the intention of the act. It should not be used as an excuse to stop development,” Lamborn said.
During his presentation he also stressed his goal of streamlining the permitting process to help make the United States more competitive in the minerals market. He cited that, on average, it takes seven-to-10 years for a mine to be permitted in the United States compared to two-to-three years in Canada and Australia.
“If we can complete our permitting process like Canada and Australia we would have a lot more mining in this country, which is my goal,” said Lamborn.
Lamborn also pledged to help SME get the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to act on SME’s October 2012 petition for rulemaking on Industry Guide 7, which is the SEC’s basic resource and reserves disclosure policy for mining companies.