Easy availability of minerals such as lithium is essential for the Detroit automobile industry. (Clarence Tabb, Jr. / The Detroit News)
Re: The Detroit News’ Oct. 11 Editorial, “U.S. manufacturing demands cheap energy”: In an insightful editorial on the importance of affordable energy to American manufacturing, The Detroit News indirectly spoke to another key concern for domestic manufacturers: The need for reliable access to minerals.
Whether aluminum and iron for auto body frames, platinum for catalytic converters, or lithium for hybrid auto batteries, a growing palette of minerals is integral to Detroit’s most innovative vehicles.
With more than $6.2 trillion worth of minerals in the U.S. — including impressive resources of iron, copper, zinc and nickel in Michigan — further development of our minerals could help meet manufacturer needs and bolster the economy.
The establishment of stable domestic mineral supply chains not only means that American resources are supporting American jobs, but also that manufacturers will enjoy reduced delivery time and costs and have better insight into their production timelines.
Unfortunately, an outdated federal permitting process is standing in the way of such progress. Permitting regularly drags on for seven to 10 years, deterring investment in U.S. mining projects and pushing investors overseas.
The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Act of 2013 — legislation that would support increased mineral production by streamlining the lengthy mine permitting process — passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support last month.
A welcome step now is for Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and their colleagues in the Senate to prioritize the passage of similar legislation and advocate for much-needed domestic mining and manufacturing jobs.
Hal Quinn is president and CEO of the National Mining Association, which advocates on behalf of America’s mining and minerals resources.