American Mining Key to American Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C.With President Trump’s first State of the Union address expected to outline plans for rebuilding America’s fractured infrastructure, the National Mining Association (NMA) today emphasized the U.S. mining industry’s inextricable role in infrastructure.

“While plans are underway to spend more than $1 trillion for the nation’s roads, bridges, transit and other projects, what is rarely recognized is that none of these projects are possible without the raw materials made available through mining,” said Hal Quinn, NMA president and CEO. “The first step taken in modernizing America’s infrastructure is one that has no cost: modernizing our permitting processes.”

Mine permitting

From building foundations to roofs, roads to bridges – America’s infrastructure projects begin with minerals such as copper, zinc and silver, and with steel made with metallurgical coal. While the U.S. is home to world class mineral resources, it is hampered by one of the world’s least-efficient mine permitting processes that takes an average of seven to 10 years before a major mining project is approved.

To address the delays and eliminate the uncertainty that have become a trademark of permitting in the U.S., we must act with a sense of urgency by: streamlining the federal review process to expedite decision-making, eliminating redundancies in which multiple agencies often weigh in on the same permit, creating a lead agency to develop a single federal environmental review document to be utilized by all agencies, establishing firm deadlines for lead agencies to complete their reviews and delegating more responsibility to the states, among other actions.

These reforms would help bring the U.S. more closely in line with the best permitting practices used in other developed countries such as Canada and Australia, which have similar environmental standards, but take just two to three years to issue mine permits.

As the front-end of America’s supply chain, the U.S. mining industry must have certainty if the nation is going to address its infrastructure challenges in a comprehensive and timely fashion. Reforming the permitting process will help to guarantee a successful rebuilding of America.