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NMA: US mining key to development of nation's infrastructure

Published by , Assistant Editor
Global Mining Review,

With President Trump’s imminent first State of the Union address, which is expected to outline plans for rebuilding America’s fractured infrastructure, the National Mining Association (NMA) has released a statement emphasising the importance of the nation’s mining industry to its infrastructure.

“While plans are underway to spend more than US$1 trillion for the nation’s roads, bridges, transit and other projects, what is rarely recognised 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: modernising our permitting processes.”

Mine permitting

According to the NMA, America’s infrastructure projects begin with minerals such as copper, zinc and silver, and with steel made with metallurgical coal. While the US is home to world class mineral resources, it is hampered by one of the world’s least efficient mine permitting processes which takes an average of 7 – 10 years before a major mining project is approved.

The NMA added that in order to address the delays and eliminate the uncertainty that have become a trademark of permitting in the US, we must act with a sense of urgency by: streamlining the federal review process to expediate 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 used by all agencies, establishing firm deadlines for lead agencies to complete their review and delegating more responsibility to the states, among other actions.

The NMA proceeded to state that these reforms would help bring the US 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 just take two to three years to issue mine permits.

The NMA came to the conclusion that the US 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.

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