Quicker mine permitting would mean jobs

Harry Moser

Michigan has long been synonymous with manufacturing, and its boom and bust cycles. That’s why it’s so important Michigan lawmakers support legislation to unlock access to the United States’ domestic minerals supply crucial to the state’s manufacturing industry.

Members of the House, including 10 from Michigan, recently showed leadership by passing U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei’s, R-Nevada, National Strategic Critical Minerals Production Act. It’s now time for the Senate to follow suit by approving similar legislation introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Doing so will improve the permitting process for U.S. mines, enabling our manufacturers to access the raw materials they need.

Home to General Motors, Ford, Delphi and Whirlpool, Michigan’s manufacturers are the fourth largest industry sector in the state and support roughly 14 percent of its workforce. All of the manufacturers depend on reliable and consistent access to minerals to make the transportation equipment, fabricated metals and machinery that drive their business and the Michigan economy.

“Iron is everywhere” as the saying goes, and it can be found in everything from energy technology to consumer electronics to everyday household items. Michigan, as the second largest producer of iron in the United States, plays a pivotal role in that supply chain.

The current mine permitting system has made the U.S. increasingly reliant on foreign mineral supplies for manufacturing. That’s because many mines across the U.S. have become ensnared in a duplicative and inefficient permitting process, making it increasingly difficult to domestically produce minerals. Today, permitting for U.S. mines spans seven to 10 years, on average, reducing the value of a mine by as much as one-third. But countries such as Canada and Australia, with similarly rigorous environmental standards, take only two or three years. The consequences of this regulatory juggernaut are that we remain more than 50 percent import-dependent for 43 minerals.

If the bill is approved, the Senate’s energy reform legislation would reduce delays and help bolster minerals production in Michigan, where the mining industry provides more than 15,000 direct jobs and supports over 36,000 indirectly. These high-paying jobs, with salaries 28 percent higher than the statewide average income, make up the backbone of an industry that contributes more than $6 billion in economic output for Michigan each year.

A top priority for our lawmakers should be helping to keep manufacturing in Michigan. Supporting this bill is a crucial step forward. Ensuring domestic access to these raw materials will help reverse the sweeping job losses the United States has seen as a result of offshoring manufacturing to such countries as China. With the right policies in place, the United States’ $6.2 trillion worth of minerals and metals could help create millions of American jobs thanks to the reshoring of manufacturing operations.

Given the importance of the manufacturing industry to Michigan’s recovering economy, it is critical that we ensure manufacturers have access to the supplies they need to continue growing and building economic opportunity.

Addressing mine permitting delays is a decisive win for Michigan’s economy and a clear step forward for the United States to effectively harness its resources. I urge the Senate to support the manufacturers that make up the backbone of the state’s economy and swiftly approve this much-needed legislation.

Harry Moser is the founder of the Reshoring Initiative. The National Mining Association is a sponsor of the Reshoring Initiative.