24 May 2010 The “Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act” Will Render America Even More Beholden to China; The Lack of Domestically-Produced Rare Earth Metals is Another Demonstration of Lost American Might
Washington, D.C. – The pending “Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act” in Congress will obstruct domestic mining investment and render America entirely dependent on foreign sources for rare earth minerals long into the future, according to policy analysts at the National Center for Public Policy Research.
The House’s Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) and the Senate’s Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) have each introduced legislation to amend the ‘General Mining Act of 1872’ to require that companies pay up to an 8% royalty on mining projects. It also imposes harsher permitting standards, levies a number of burdensome fees and grants the Department of the Interior increased regulatory authority over the mining industry.
The United States is facing a crisis in the supply of rare earth minerals. Once entirely self-sufficient in the material, America now imports 100% of its supply of rare earth minerals, 91% of it coming from China.
“The Chinese control over 97% of the world’s supply of rare earth – a material which is essential to such modern needs as cell phones, the catalytic converter, iPods, X-ray machines, and a plethora of green technologies. Further, they are crucial to wide variety of military defense systems such as precision guided missiles, unmanned drones, ‘smart bombs, and night vision goggles,” said Caroline May. May is a policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research and author of the just-released paper “Is America About to Become Even More Dependent on China? The Case for Domestic Rare Earth Elements (REEs) Exploration and Excavation,” available online at www.nationalcenter.org/NPA608.html.
In the last ten years alone, worldwide demand for rare earth minerals has tripled from an annual demand of 40,000 tons to 120,000 tons. Despite the increased global demand the Chinese have reduced exports of rare earth minerals by 40% and announced intentions to continue such reductions order to satisfy its own domestic needs.
“Domestic mining companies such as Molycorp are investing in rare earth development here at home, however if the ‘Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act’ becomes law attempts to reinvigorate the domestic rare earth industry will be greatly diminished,” said May, “Americans already lament our dependence on foreign sources for oil, must we continue the trend with rare earth minerals?”
The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit, free-market think-tank established in 1982 and funded primarily by the gifts of over 100,000 recent individual contributors. Less than one percent of funding is received from corporations.