Grijalva’s Proposed Change to Mining Law Would Be Disastrous for America

Rep. Raul "Ralph" Grijalva. [Photo from Facebook]

Congressman Raul Grijalva is at it again with his proposed H.R. 2579 Hardrock Leasing and Reclamation Act of 2019 which would probably make future mining in America uneconomic. Among other things, the law would impose a 12.5% royalty on productions and eliminate valid mining claims after 20 years (read full text). The royalty is extremely punitive to an industry that already pays over 45 percent of its earnings to federal, state and local governments, in the form of taxes, fees, royalties and other assessments. Currently, the U.S. is 100% import-reliant for 18 minerals – 14 of which have been deemed “critical” by the departments of defense or interior.

The American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA) notes that:

The sweeping changes in Rep. Grijalva’s legislation are unnecessary and a disaster in the making for the domestic mining industry and for America.

The fact is, hardrock mining is fundamentally different than oil, gas, and coal because it is much more difficult to find and develop hardrock mineral resources. This bill ignores these differences and seeks to force-fit royalty and leasing programs for coal, oil, and gas on hardrock mining. Without question, the Grijalva bill, if enacted, would substantially chill private-sector investment in exploring for and developing minerals on federal land and dramatically increase our already extensive reliance on foreign sources of minerals.

This bill poses a significant threat to our Nation’s economic security and to our defense, technology, manufacturing, infrastructure, and renewable energy sectors, all of which rely on minerals from mining. The country will suffer as high paying family-wage jobs are exported, and our rural communities will experience disproportionately severe economic hardships.

Geologist Ned Mamula (adjunct scholar in Geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute) opines that:

Mining is a long-term investment process and, although two decades is a long time, some hardrock mines now take 10 years or more just to get approved. What company would be willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a new mine only to see its mining claims suddenly revoked?

Remarkably, the timing of this “reform” is just as bad as the substance. U.S. demand for minerals is climbing steadily: for hundreds of defense, aerospace, electronic, energy, medical, computing, transportation and other applications. Yet, our dependence on China for minerals is at an all-time high and growing, despite increasingly tense diplomatic relations. (Read full article)

Matthew Kandrach, President of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy notes:

The taboo against hard-rock mining in the United States is nonsensical and should be abandoned. Instead, America should embrace a far wiser policy of ensuring greater access to minerals on our public lands, since it’s in our national and economic interest. This would help reduce our heavy dependence on foreign nations for minerals that are needed in the production of advanced weapons systems and a multitude of consumer technologies.

The current problem stems from America adhering to a highly duplicative and inefficient system of regulatory permits and oversight that governs domestic mining. Over all, the mining industry is struggling with a regulatory system that forces them to wait seven to 10 years to obtain a mining permit, in contrast to Canada and Australia where the process takes two to three years.

The permit system was set up during a very different era when the U.S. dominated the production and use of minerals. But those days are long past. China is now the world’s leading producer and exporter of minerals and metals, supplying many that are critical to U.S. manufacturing, our technology and energy sectors, and national defense. Our ongoing dependence is not only a potential vulnerability during a time of increased global tensions, but greatly limits our nation’s ability to capitalize on our mineral wealth. (Read more)

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See also:

This isn’t the first time Grijalva attacked the mining industry, see this article from 2013:

Mining royalties, another bad, job-killing idea from Raul Grijalva

A Short History of Mining Law

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14 Comments

  1. The feds shouldn’t even be involved in this issue. A ridiculous amount of our state is directly controlled federal lands, allowing far more domestic intrusion than I would ever think desirable.

  2. Minerals and spirits, can anyone guess which this scumbag has consumed far far to much of.

    This idiot couldn’t support Az or the US if he tripped and fell on something benifical for either.

    Nothing but negative and destructive flows they his veins next to the alcohol, and we keep putting this disgrace right back where he can harm us all

    • We have a lot of “fat” people in this company. How about less ad hominen comments that provide little insight?

  3. Over the last several months, approvals of the Rosemont and Polymet’s Northmet project in Minnesota have prompted calls to reform the 1872 Mining Law. However, the goal of opponents of these and other projects is not responsible development of our nation’s resources. It’s all about stopping the development of new projects and limiting expansion of existing mining operations.

    Congressman Grijalva has a long history of opposing responsible development of our nation’s resources. In 1998, he served on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, who ignored concerns from the mining industry when they established the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Ironwood National Monument in June 2000, which has severely limited mineral development around the Silver Bell mine.

  4. While I can’t stand him not one oz of gold, silver or even copper went to this Country in the mining of our land. It’s all sold on the open market (to China or India) for their profit only. Then we are stuck with what’s left behind after they close up then leave to open a new one somewhere else. Rosemont up by Tucson all ready sold everything, and has yet to be approved.

    • Modern conveniences that make our life style possible are commonly taken for granted as we pursue our daily activities. One of the primary sources for materials used to manufacture these modern conveniences is mining. Today’s society has become so dependent on these products, it is difficult to identify a single item we use every day that does not contain raw materials extracted from the earth. Take a moment to think about it. Products containing materials derived from mining are all around us. Without them the standard of living we all enjoy would not be possible.

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