Women’s Mining Coalition submits comments on America’s Supply Chains executive order

April 29, 2021

On April 27, the Women's Mining Coalition submitted a letter authored by WMC Co-Founder and Board Member Debbie Struhsacker to the United States Department of Defense (DOD) with suggestions for policies and actions DOD should take to strengthen the country’s critical minerals supply chains in response to President Biden’s America’s Supply Chains E.O. 14017.

In the letter, WMC highlights the United States’ well-documented reliance on imported minerals and cites the U.S. Geological Survey’s annual Mineral Commodity Summaries (ME, May 2021) that documents the nation’s 100 percent dependence on 14 minerals included in the USGS’s list of critical minerals.

“The U.S. is fortunate to have a rich mineral endowment and could produce most of the minerals we need from U.S. mines,” Struhsacker wrote. “Our current inability to satisfy our mineral demands with minerals from domestic mines is mainly due to unfavorable policies that make securing permits for U.S. mining projects very difficult and time-consuming compared to other countries. In particular, the costs, delays, and uncertainties associated with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental reviews impede mineral exploration and development and chill investment in the mineral sector.”

In the letter, WMC offers the following suggestions to the DOD.

•Prioritize developing domestic mining and mineral processing facilities in preference to importing critical minerals and processed mineral products from allied countries in order to minimize carbon emissions associated with global shipments of minerals from foreign mines, smelters and refineries to U.S. manufacturers and mineral products consumers.
•Implement the Calls to Action in the 2019 Department of Commerce Report, “Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals,” placing special emphasis on the need to increase our geologic knowledge of the country’s critical minerals resources, improve access to critical mineral deposits on federal lands, reduce the length of time it takes to permit a mine, and increase the critical minerals workforce;
•Stimulate and facilitate exploration and redevelopment of previously mined sites by working with other federal agencies and Congress to develop policies that reduce the CERCLA liability concerns that are currently chilling private-sector investment in producing critical minerals from historic mines;
•Expand the scope of critical minerals initiatives to include the host metals in the Wheel of Metals Companionality because even though these primary metals are not included in the USGS’ critical minerals list, there is significant potential to produce important critical minerals as by-products or co-products from primary metals mines;
• Recognize that China’s hegemony over the fields of mineral processing and extractive metallurgy poses a significant threat to the United States’ ability to strengthen our critical minerals supply chains and develop a strategy to reduce our reliance on China as the principal place where U.S. mined minerals are processed and refined;
•Address the critical shortage of U.S. mineral processing and extractive metallurgy professionals and reduce China’s dominance over the world’s mineral processing and refining by funding U.S. educational and research programs to increase our intellectual capital and build a larger cadre of U.S. experts in these fields;
•Promote construction of new U.S. mineral processing and refining facilities and evaluate the feasibility of refurbishing idled facilities;
•Work with the Administration and Congressional leaders to increase their awareness of how the 30 by 30 Plan and bills to reduce and even eliminate mining on federal lands will thwart the Administration’s simultaneous goal to strengthen America’s critical minerals supply chains and exacerbate our reliance on foreign minerals; and
•Acknowledge that achieving the Nation’s clean energy objectives will substantially increase the demand for many minerals, which should be sourced from domestic mines rather than from foreign countries.

 

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