Reforms in the US mine permitting system could be sped up if
they form part of a proposed infrastructure shakeup, a
spokeswoman for House Committee on Natural Resources
suggested to IM.
US president Donald Trump came to power in part on a plan to
drive $1 trillion of investment in domestic infrastructure,
through tax credits for private investment.
Consequently, this policy has strong support from the White
Furthermore, the spokeswoman noted that there was "consensus
on both side of the isle", signifying that both Democrat and
Republican are in theory supportive of the idea of increased
Political moves to reform the US mine permitting system have
seen four legislative attempts fail, over the previous three
Congresses, as successive legislation fails to clear the
required hurdles in time.
Although the White House has not yet endorsed the idea of
including mining reform in its proposed infrastructure policy,
such a move would help the matter move up the legislative
"Everything we’ve seen so far suggests the new
administration [will be supportive of mining]," she said.
A key concern for mining groups in the US is the length of
time it takes to gain the necessary permits for mining
Both mining groups and the lower house committee responsible
for mining noted that the process of gaining such permits in
the US is considerably slower than in other jurisdictions such
A report by SNL Metals and Mining found that it takes an
average of seven-to-10 years to obtain permits to commence
operations in the US, compared to two years in Canada and
Hopes for a reform in the US mine permitting system were
dashed last year, when Congress came to an end before a
compromise mining bill could be put in front of the president
The House of Representatives bill contained the requirement
that projects were either approved or rejected within 30
months, a provision hailed by mining lobby groups.
But the end of the previous Congress essentially moved the
legislative process back to square one in early 2017. Now the
bills will need to be passed afresh by the newly elected
The latest iteration of the National Strategic and Critical
Minerals Production Act has been introduced by the House
Committee on Natural Resources.
'Meandering through the
Legislation to reduce the time it takes new mines in the US
to gain the necessary permits is currently winding its way
through both the lower and upper houses of the US Congress.
A spokeswoman for Mark Amodei, the Nevada congressman
sponsoring the lower house bill, told IM
that "if history is any indicator, it usually passes the
house sometime in the fall," citing cases in past congresses.
A spokesman for the American Exploration & Mining
Association (Aema) told IM that the lower
house bill was likely to be passed by committee without
But a similar bill is also making its way through the
When overlapping bills are passed by the Senate and the
House of Representatives, the bills are taken to conference
with negotiators from both sides working to produce a
So until the Senate bill can be passed, the lower house
legislation will have to cool its heels. Only when both houses
have produced their bills can negotiation begin.
Nobody IM spoke to was willing to estimate
a timescale for the passage of the Senate bill, but there was a
consensus that it would take significantly longer than the
lower house’s legislation.
If the bill is not signed before the end of the current
congress in January 2019, the process will have to restart.