In the months ahead, President-elect Biden will begin laying out plans for the transition of power and how to address a myriad of issues related to the global pandemic, the economy and America’s standing on the international stage. Among the most pressing issues, is how to secure U.S. supply chains to ensure continued economic recovery amidst likely increases in COVID-19 cases around the globe.
The pace of change in the mining industry has been intensified through the pandemic. With increased efficiency and safety, U.S. mines have the potential to produce a majority of the country’s mineral materials with unparalleled protections of people and planet. American mining companies will partner with the Biden administration to source metals here at home, avoiding operations abroad in countries with less workplace safety and environmental protections in place.
For years, our mineral dependence has been shuffled to the side as nations like China and Australia continue to make investments in mining. As of 2019, the United States was 100 percent import reliant for 17 key mineral resources and more than 50 percent reliant for an additional 29. The National Mining Association (NMA) has followed this trend for years, highlighting the flaws with such a lopsided supply chain. Now, with higher public awareness than ever before, policymakers can work together to update the policies that impede domestic production.
During the pandemic, supply shortages for everything from bicycles to surgical masks proved a clear warning. Both President Trump and President-elect Biden have expressed support for strengthening our domestic supply chains. Moving forward, the U.S. mining industry stands ready to support any effort to protect our supply chains and provide timely access to mineral-rich lands. With commonsense policy changes, U.S. mining can support well-paying jobs, fortify our national security and promote economic progress.
A renewed investment in the next generation of mining will offer a stronger economy through new, high-paying jobs. With a reliable supply of metals, government agencies like The Department of Energy and The Department of Defense will no longer need to speculate on the national security implications of metal shortages resulting from geopolitical tensions. In a future where battery metals and other mineral inputs are sourced domestically, the U.S. can be a leader in cutting-edge technologies for electrified vehicles, critical defense applications and a diversified energy supply. With these realizations in mind, the pursuit of stronger U.S. mining is definitively in the best interest of all Americans.
Regardless of their political affiliation, America’s public servants in Washington will need to address these issues to deliver on their promise to the American people. Given the intensive global demand for minerals that support nearly every facet of modern technology and industry, the National Mining Association will look to facilitate a constructive dialogue with and among policymakers to bring awareness and action for domestic mining.