Corporate Blog

Mines to Market: The National Mining Association's New Report on the Connections Between Mining and Manufacturing

The following article originally appeared on the American Resources Policy Network's blog, this past September, courtesy of TRER director Daniel McGroarty.

ARPN followers are well aware of the connection between Made in America and Mined in America. Today, the National Mining Association (NMA) released a comprehensive new report, documenting in detail the importance of mined materials to America’s manufacturing resurgence – or lack thereof.

The NMA report notes what it terms

“…a gross structural mismatch between domestic mineral supply and demand. Although the United States is a major mining country, it enjoys a much higher global ranking as a manufacturer than it does as a miner.”

The mismatch has emerged in less than a generation:

“In 1990, the United States was the world’s largest producer of metallic and industrial minerals. By 2013, the country had fallen to seventh place in the global ranking, with output accounting for less than 5 percent of the value of global mined output. China, Australia, Brazil, Russia, Chile and South Africa all ranked ahead of the United States.”

In a world where there is more and more demand for metals and minerals, the U.S. has done less and less mining, proportionate to other mining nations. Consider these data-points from the NMA study:

  • Since 2000, mining of iron ore globally has increased 101%. U.S. iron ore production has decreased by 19%.
  • Silver production worldwide is up 41%; in the U.S. it is down 45%.
  • Global copper production is up 36%; in the U.S., it is down 15%.
  • Global zinc production is up 55%, but down in the U.S. by 11%.

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What’s changed in the United States to account for this resource reversal? After all, NMA notes there is much to commend U.S. mineral extraction:

“Relative to their global peers, miners in the United States are highly efficient, often exemplifying best practices with regard to productivity, sustainability and safety. The United States remains highly prospective, from a geological point of view, with abundant, diverse mineral resources of high quality.”

And yet,

“While the country’s mining sector is ideally positioned to support manufacturers’ need for greater sustainability and shorter supply chains in the production process, an outdated, inefficient permitting system presents a barrier to American companies’ access to the minerals they need and thus to economic competitiveness.”

“As a consequence of its inefficient permitting system, it takes on average seven to ten years to secure the permits needed to commence operations. To put that into perspective, in Canada and Australia, countries with similarly stringent environmental regulations, the waiting period is two years.”

For ARPN followers interested in the link between mining and manufacturing, the new NMA report LINK is required reading. America’s economic competitiveness hangs in the balance.