National Mining Association Testifies on Proposed Changes to Mining Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Katie Sweeney, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the National Mining Association (NMA), testified today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in a hearing examining potential updates to the Mining Law of 1872. Excerpts from her testimony are included below and the full testimony is available here:


  • “Nearly two decades ago, the U.S. attracted almost 20 percent of the world’s total mining investment. Unfortunately, in the time since, there has been a sharp decline in U.S. exploration investment. This is not due to lack of resources, but rather a lack of confidence in the U.S. as a viable mining jurisdiction in which to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in upfront costs due to duplicative, inefficient and costly permitting timeframes, making the U.S. more dependent on other countries for metals. It currently takes between seven to 10 years – or longer – to permit a mine in the U.S. In Canada and Australia, which have environmental standards comparable to the U.S., it takes two to three years to complete the same process.”


  • “The current legislation being considered through the budget reconciliation process in the U.S. House Representatives contains many policy changes detrimental to a healthy domestic mining industry. With so much in the balance, budget reconciliation legislation is not the right vehicle for this dialogue. …For more than a decade, we have seen legislative proposals reintroduced calling for a gross royalty on new and existing mining operations like those included in the U.S. House reconciliation legislation. These, in combination with a displaced material fee or dirt tax on the same material, would result in severe reduction of new operations and economic infeasibility to move forward on a project. For existing operations, a new gross royalty that was never accounted for in the mine plan of operation would erase profitability, potentially leading to an early mine closure. If the new, punitive gross royalty and dirt tax proposals… are allowed to continue, no amount of permitting reforms will make the U.S. an attractive investment jurisdiction.”


  • “Mineral mining is unlike other natural resources production. The amount of processable material produced can be less than a percent or ounces of a ton of displaced material. That processable material must then go through many steps of being beneficiated, treated and smelted. …A tiny fraction of millions of tons of displaced material and rock, in addition to costly processing, ultimately produces a salable product.  …hardrock mining companies pay income and other federal, state and local taxes where they operate. This cumulatively makes up the total ‘government take’ (royalties, taxes and other fees) paid by mining companies operating in the U.S. For many of our companies, the existing government take is close to 40 percent and sometimes more, nearing the top range of other competitive mining countries.”

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