SNEAK PEEK: Legislation speeds development of fed land for ‘strategic and critical minerals’

| Published on August 17, 2012

The House of Representatives, on July 12, passed legislation 256 to 169 that would speed development on federal lands of strategic and critical minerals, including aggregates, by limiting review time for drilling permits and requiring concurrent rather than sequential consideration, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) reports.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) introduced the bill, H.R. 4402, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act. The legislation requires the secretaries of agriculture and the interior to develop domestic sources of minerals of “strategic and critical importance,” the NSSGA reports.

According to the text of the bill, this would include “minerals that are necessary…to support domestic manufacturing, agriculture…and transportation infrastructure.”

The current average timeframe for acquiring permits for domestic mine development on federal lands is seven to 10 years, according the text of the bill submitted by Doc Hastings, (R-Wash.), chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources. “This delay puts the United States at a competitive disadvantage with other mineral-rich countries and leaves it more dependent on foreign sources of minerals and mined materials, including rare earth elements,” the bill says.

Hastings and his committee note in the bill’s text that the United States is nearly 100 percent dependent on China for rare earth elements, even though the United States has economic deposits of these mineral resources and at one time had the largest market share in the world.

H.R. 4402 builds on successful highway legislation and Administrative guidance on permitting procedures for infrastructure and renewable energy projects by requiring the lead agency to coordinate and effectively communicate with all cooperating agencies, project proponents, and other stakeholders. Furthermore, the bill eliminates duplicative analysis, provides for timely filings for litigants, and allows 30 months for the lead agency to prepare, consider, and reach a decision on permitting for mine development,” according to the bill.

For a downloadable PDF of the text of the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Act of 2012 (H.R. 4402) bill, go to http://www.aggman.com/files/2012/07/National-Strategic-and-Critical-Minerals-Act-of-2012-H.R.-4402.pdf.

For more on this, see the September 2012 digital (www.aggman.com/digital) or the print edition of Aggregates Manager.

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