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Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Holds Hearing on US Dependence on Foreign Minerals

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing “To Examine the United States’ Increasing Dependence on Foreign Sources of Minerals and Opportunities to Rebuild and Improve the Supply Chain in the United States”. The Hearing featured testimony from a variety of experts who were able to provide insight into both the importance of cultivating a domestic supply chain for minerals and the current impediments to investment in mining in the United States. The list of witnesses was as follows:

·       Dr. Murray Hitzman, Associate Director, Energy and Minerals, The U.S. Geological Survey (testimony)

·       Mr. Alf Barrios, Chief Executive, Rio Tinto Aluminum (testimony)

·       Dr. Chris Hinde, Director of Reports, Metals and Mining, S&P Global Market Intelligence (testimony)

·       Mr. Randy MacGillivray, Vice President, Project Development, Ucore Rare Metals, Inc. (testimony)

·       Vice Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff, USN (Retired), President and Chief Executive Officer, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) (testimony)

·       Dr. Roderick G. Eggert, Viola Vestal Coulter Foundation Chair in Mineral Economics Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines (testimony)

 

Chairwoman Murkowski (R-AK) continues to be a champion for mineral development and investment in the United States. Her opening statement as well as her questions demonstrated her knowledge of the role minerals play in the global and domestic economy and the reliance every sector has on accessible and affordable minerals. In addition to the predictably supportive Republican Senators, the Democrat Senators in attendance all also appeared to understand the importance of the mining industry and the responsible development of domestic resources. During the Q&A portion of the hearing the Senators asked questions on a variety of issues that impact IMA-NA members. Please see the synopses below on questions of particular interest.

 

·       Permitting: Multiple Senators asked for insight on how the permitting process impacts US development of mineral resources. The consistent message from the panel was that the permitting process in the United States needs takes substantially longer than Canada and Australia, two countries with comparable standards, and that the process can be improved by eliminating duplicative components, syncing up different agencies’ requirements to work on things simultaneously, setting actualized deadlines, and providing certainty in the long term requirements.

·       CERCLA: Senator Lee (R-UT) asked whether CERCLA 108(b) would have a negative impact on the mining industry. Mr. Barrios answered that the rule would disincentivize investment in new mining projects in the United States. Additionally, Barrios noted that the bonding requirements are duplicative as companies already carry bonding under other programs to cover the clean up of contaminated sites.

·       Education: The Committee had questions related to both the education of the general public, Congress, and the Administration about the industry and the state of the mining engineering pipeline at mining schools. These questions reflect conversations IMA-NA members and staff continue on the best way to increase awareness of our industry in a positive light. In addition, the focus on encouraging the next generation of mining professionals also mirrors current IMA-NA outreach and program development.

·       Minerals Science: Senator Murkowski took some time to comment on her belief in funding the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to provide the US with the most complete information possible on the resources available. She specifically focused on the need to create a complete map of the minerals of United States, as only 1/3 of the country is currently mapped.

·       Transportation: Senator Stabenow (D-MI) asked a question about the role access to reasonable transportation for mined products has in promoting domestic production of minerals. The panel all related that transportation costs made up a large part of operating budgets and certainly could negatively impact domestic production.

·       Soda Ash: Senator Barrasso (R-WY) asked a question about how minerals, such as Soda Ash, can remain competitive in a global market when US producers face both higher transportation costs and regulatory burdens, and are not subsidized in the way China subsidizes mining. Dr. Hitzman highlighted the importance of reliable transportation infrastructure, favorable tax codes, and consistent interpretation of laws and regulations.

 

The hearing gave a good indication of how the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee views the role of the mining industry in our economy and our national defense. Chairwoman Murkowski acknowledged plans to reintroduce her legislation S. 883, American Mineral Security Act of 2015, from last session as a way to further raise the importance of minerals to our national and economic well-being. Overall, the hearing provided the industry the opportunity to highlight the challenges of operating in the United States as well as the positive contributions the industry makes to society. 

To read Chairwoman Murkowski's opening statement click here.

To watch the recording of the hearing click here. 

Tags:  Barrasso  CERCLA  Congress  Energy and Natural Resources  ENR  hearing  industrial minerals industry  legislation  Legislators  minerals science  Murkowski  Senate  soda ash  usgs 

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Important Position with Minerals Resource Program Currently Vacant

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The start of 2017 will bring many changes to U.S. government, as the 115th Congress begins and the Trump Administration moves into the White House. As with any change in governance, there will be opportunities to influence the direction of our new legislators and regulators and the country. In addition to the higher profile issues IMA-NA and NISA work on, IMA-NA will continue its work on behalf of minerals science and information funding in 2017. IMA-NA will work through the Minerals Science and Information Coalition (MSIC) to restore funding for the important work  of the Mineral Resource Program (MRP) at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The MRP has a long and distinguished history of research and assessment of our nation’s mineral resources and IMA-NA maintains it is vital that we invest in understanding our domestic resources to build and maintain resilient supply chains. Congress and the Administration need to understand the contributions of minerals to the U.S. and global economy.

IMA-NA is fortunate to have a good working relationship with the USGS staff in the MRP and we are saddened to learn of the impending retirement of Larry Meinert from his role as Program Coordinator of the Mineral Resources Program in the new year.

This Program Coordinator role provides the scientific vision and leadership to the MRP and as such is an important representative for minerals science in our government. USGS is currently accepting applications to fill Larry’s position. The timeline is short, but IMA-NA would invite our members to check out the listing and circulate it to any industry friends who might be interested. 

To view the posting for non-Federal employees click here.

To view the posting for current Federal employees click here

Tags:  education  jobs  Minerals Resource Program  minerals science  MRP  msic  usgs 

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Senate Passes Energy Policy Modernization Act

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

This morning the Senate passed Senator Murkowski's Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012) by a vote of 85-12.  The bill grew out of a bipartisan effort in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and addresses a wide array of energy issues including: energy efficiency standards, electric grid infrastructure, across the board energy development, and resource management funding. IMA-NA supported the bill, specifically Subtitle D. which was comprised entirely of Senator Murkowski's American Mineral Security Act of 2015 (S. 883).  Passage of S. 2012 is impressive for the scope of the issues addressed by the legislation but for the mining industry it is a step towards greater recognition of the important role minerals play in our economy and energy development.  Subtitle D. pushes for greater funding for USGS and their minerals sciences, specifically with the goal of mapping and forecasting our resources in the United States. The Senate vote this morning on a comprehensive energy bill is the first success since 2007 and the inclusion of minerals and minerals sciences is an important step forward. 

To read the bill click here. 

Tags:  energy  industrial minerals industry  legislation  minerals science  msic  Senate  USGS 

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Upcoming Webinars: OSHA Weight of Evidence Guidance and Mining & EHS - A Case Study

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Over the next week IMA-NA would like to encourage you to participate in three webinars offering insight into various aspects of the mining industry. In addition to the two webinars IMA-NA is hosting: Friday's OSHA Weight of Evidence Guidance and next Wednesday's Mining & EHS - A Case Study, the Association is co-sponsoring the Minerals Sciences & Information Coalition's webinar: Underpinning Innovation: The Science and Supply of America's Critical Minerals and Materials. These three webinars handle both practical topics for running your operations as well as educational topics, such as, the importance of federal investment in the U.S. Geological Survey.  Below you will find brief descriptions of each webinar as well as links to register.

 

Webinar Title: OSHA Weight of Evidence Guidance

Date/Time: Friday March 25, 2:00 EST

Click here to register 

OSHA’s new guidance on how to apply the Weight of Evidence approach for assessing complex scientific studies under its GHS HazCom rule is open for comment until May 2, 2016, and will impact IMA-NA members who must prepare Safety Data Sheets and warning labels for their products. The "weight of evidence" approach is intended to assist both manufacturers and employers in evaluating scientific studies on the potential health hazards of a chemical and determine what information must be disclosed. Attorneys Adele Abrams CMSP and Brian Yellin CIH of the Law Office of Adele L Abrams PC will present the legal and technical information you need to weigh in on this important subject.  

 

Webinar Title: Underpinning Innovation: The Science and Supply of America's Critical Minerals and Materials

Date/Time: Wednesday March 30, 1:00 EST

Click here to register

Minerals are a part of almost every product we use on a daily basis, either as the raw materials for manufacturing processes or as the end products themselves. Advanced technologies for communications, clean energy, medical devices, and national security rely on raw materials from mines throughout the world. In 2010, China curtailed exports of rare earth metals and sparked major concern about the security of global supply chains for a range of vital minerals and materials. This webinar is based on a Congressional briefing organized by AGI on behalf of the Mineral Science & Information Coalition (3 March 2016). The webinar will address the efforts being taken at the federal level to ensure a steady supply of critical minerals and materials.

 

Webinar Title: Mining & EHS - A Case Study

Date/Time: Wednesday March 30, 2:00 EST

Click here to register

Join us for a webinar where we will feature EHS compliance best practices of a leading silica mining and manufacturing company. Gensuite will share practical insights into how your peers in the mining and related industries are addressing MSHA and OSHA requirements, driving accountability throughout the enterprise, and improving compliance performance through the use of web-based systems with a suite of fully-integrated and mobile-enabled compliance and risk management tools. Learn how companies such as U.S. Silica, PotashCorp, Ingersoll Rand, and General Electric are engaging employees at all levels of the organization in driving EHS performance improvements and operational efficiencies.

 

Tags:  Associate Member  case study  compliance  EHS  industrial minerals industry  minerals science  msic  OSHA  regulations  usgs  webinars 

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Senator Murkowksi Introduces the American Mineral Security Act

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Friday, April 3, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015

This week, Senator Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the American Mineral Security Act (S.883), a bill focused on supporting the minerals science related to critical minerals. As a member of the Minerals Science Information Coalition (MSIC), IMA-NA is supportive of measures to increase the visibility of minerals sciences and the role of the US Geological Survey (USGS) in global economy. Senator Murkowski’s bill focuses specifically on critical minerals; creating a designation methodology, assessing resources, studying market demand and impact, and developing forecasting tools.  IMA-NA would like Senator Murkowski’s bill to be a starting place for a reinvestment in the necessary work done by the National Minerals Information Center (NMIC) at USGS. Our modern lifestyle relies on the mining industry and the raw materials it provides, and yet the US government has repeatedly cut funding and support for the programs that allow for conscientious mineral development with an eye towards the future. IMA-NA hopes that starting with critical minerals will increase awareness of the importance of NMIC, particularly in the usefulness of creating forecasting tools. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy Natural Resources.  The text of the bill is attached for your viewing.

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  Congress  industrial minerals industry  legislation  minerals science  Murkowski  usgs 

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Minerals Science Information Coalition Supports 2015 USGS Initiatives

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

On February 23rd, IMA-NA along with other members of the Minerals Science Information Coalition (MSIC) sent a letter of support to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in response to the 2015 initiatives of the National Minerals Information Center (NMIC). As the only NMIC and the Minerals Resources Program (MRP) are the primary providers of minerals science and information, IMA-NA and the Coalition are very interested in seeing greater investment in forward thinking initiatives. In January Steve M. Fortier, Director of NMIC, sent a letter outlining the various activities and initiatives for 2015, some of which seem to indicate a move towards forward thinking research.  Ideally, MSIC would like to see the minerals science programs restored to their previous funding levels and perhaps expanded to create new forecasting abilities. Minerals are the building blocks for our lifestyles and as such we need accurate information on existing stores in order to responsibly develop the resources.  MSIC is supportive of the direction Director Fortier is currently steering NMIC.  To read Director Fortier's letter and the Coalition's response click on the attachments.

Download File (PDF)

 Attached Files:

Tags:  coalition  comments  department of interior  minerals science  msic  usgs 

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2016 Proposed Budget for the US Geological Survey

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Tuesday, February 3, 2015

President Obama released his proposed budget for 2016 and amongst the numerous allocations, he requested $1.2 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  If approved, the 2016 budget for USGS would be roughly $150 million more than was enacted for FY2015.

As of 1995, with the dissolution of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, federal programs related to the management of mineral resources are split across the Departments of Interior (DOI) and Energy (DOE).  Within DOI, USGS is tasked with the scientific study and cataloging of our natural resources.  Despite the importance of USGS's work, funding has been repeatedly cut to the minerals science programs.  IMA-NA is a member of the Minerals Science Information Coalition (MSIC), with the goal being renewed investment in the USGS minerals science programs. The proposed FY16 budget shows some potential movement including a request for just under $1 million for the Mineral Resources Program.The money is specifically to continue life-cycle analyses for critical minerals and R&D to reduce the impact of mining on the environment.

 To read more about the Proposed Presidential Budget for USGS in FY16 click here.

Tags:  budget  minerals science  president  usgs 

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IMA-NA Comments on Critical and Strategic Materials Supply Chains

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, August 28, 2014

On August 27th, IMA-NA submitted comments to the Office of Science and Technology Policy in response to its request for information on "Critical and Strategic Materials Supply Chains".  IMA-NA's comments focused on the importance of minerals in general, and industrial minerals specifically, to our economy.  Our dependence on minerals in order to maintain a high standard of life was used to highlight the significance of, not only, minerals currently classified as critical or strategic but also industrial minerals to society. 

The comments then moved on to push for investment in the Mineral Resources Program at USGS, as our only unbiased source of information on the state of minerals across the globe.  In order to properly understand the mineral supply chain and its vulnerabilities one needs to have both a source of information with the ability to forecast trends.  IMA-NA believes the Mineral Resources Program should be funded to reflect our reliance on minerals with a long term goal of significant forecasting capabilities. 

To read IMA-NA's comments click on the attachment at the end of this post. 

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  comments  minerals science  msic  policy  supply chain  usgs 

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New IMA-NA Position Papers

Posted By Ariel Hill-Davis, Thursday, August 7, 2014
IMA-NA has posted two new position papers related to our ongoing advocacy efforts.  The first position highlights our commitment to investment in minerals science information through restoring previous funding levels for the US Geological Survey's Minerals Information programs.  To read our position paper on minerals science information click here.

The second posted position reinforces our support for workforce development programs. Recently IMA-NA added its voice to those calling for the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which was signed into law last month. To read our position paper on the importance of workforce development click here.

Tags:  advocacy  ima-na  minerals science  position papers  usgs  workforce development 

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