Metal process

Push to shorten US mining permit review process is gaining momentum

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September 1 (Reuters) – U.S. mining companies, automakers and a bipartisan group of members of Congress are recommending the federal government cut the time it takes to license a new mine to boost domestic production of minerals for electric vehicles.

The demands, submitted this week to a committee that will propose changes to the General Mining Act of 1872, come amid growing pressure on the electric vehicle industry to source lithium, copper and other minerals from national or allied sources.

The Interagency Task Force on Mining Reform has been considering since February ways to change the law that governs hard rock mining on US government lands. Public comments were expected this week. Any changes would need to be approved by the entire US Congress and President Joe Biden.

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“Today’s lengthy, costly and inefficient permitting process makes it difficult for American companies to invest in the mining and processing of critical minerals in the United States,” wrote Chris Smith, Director of Government Affairs of Ford Motor Co (FN), to the committee. .

Ford, which has lithium supply deals with Ioneer Ltd of Nevada (INR.AX) and Compass Minerals International Inc (CMP.N) of Utah, has asked for faster mining permits, greater transparency in the review process and increased federal funding for geological mapping.

Electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive Inc said it supported mining permit reform “done in a more efficient and coordinated way”.

State and federal approval for a mine can take more than a decade, compared to a few years on average in Canada and Australia, which have large mining sectors.

Environmental advocates said the US mining law was decades overdue for reform and should instead be amended to require more recycling and focus more on ways to mitigate the effects of mining on host communities, avoiding some of the negative effects of fossil fuel production.

“Mining companies are candidly taking the opportunity to say that mining is the only way to get the minerals we need,” said Blaine Miller-McFeeley of Earthjustice.

Ford’s demands were echoed by the National Mining Association (NMA), the trade group for American miners, which also called for a net royalty for minerals mined on federal lands to be set, rather than a royalty on the gross revenue. There are no existing royalties for companies operating on federal lands, much to the chagrin of conservationists.

The NMA is also calling for a so-called Good Samaritan law that would indemnify a company from any legal liability if it rehabilitates a former mining site. Perpetua Resources Corp (PPTA.O), for example, is trying to redevelop Idaho’s Stibnite Gold project, which was polluted by World War II mining.

Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX.N), the largest US copper producer, has recommended that the red metal be added to a list of minerals considered essential for the nation’s defense and economy.

Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Arizona Senator Mark Kelly signed a bipartisan letter to the committee calling for a more streamlined mine licensing process. The proposed mines in Nevada by Lithium Americas Corp (LAC.TO) and in Arizona by Rio Tinto Ltd (RIO.AX) have been under development for more than a decade.

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Reporting by Ernest Scheyder and Valerie Volcovici; Additional reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Nick Zieminski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Ernest Scheyder

Thomson Reuters

Covers the future of energy and transportation, including electric vehicle and battery technology, with a focus on lithium, copper, cobalt, rare earths and other minerals, policy, politics , etc. Previously covered oil and natural gas, including a stay in the North Bakken Shale Oil Patch in Dakota.