Critical Minerals: How Will the Energy Bill Help Domestic Miners?

The new Senate Energy Bill released to the public this week promises to help miners by modernizing federal permitting processes, but what, exactly, is in the bill for the domestic industries?

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We asked the National Mining Association to detail exactly how the bill would help miners and their manufacturer customers.

One of the biggest changes it would make is requiring the federal government to come up with a definition of what “critical minerals” are.

  • The bill amends Section 3 of the National Materials and Minerals Policy, Research and Development Act of 1980 to modernize the congressional declaration of federal mineral policies.
  • It requires the secretary of the interior, acting through the director of the US Geological Survey, to establish a methodology for the designation of critical minerals based on the potential for supply disruptions and the importance of their use. Requires the list of critical minerals to be reviewed and updated at least every three years.
  • Requires the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with state geological surveys, to identify and quantify critical mineral resources throughout the US within four years. Requires a report on the status of geological surveying for any mineral on which the US is more than 25% import dependent, but which is not designated as a critical mineral.
  • Permitting: Outlines a series of performance improvements and reporting requirements to reduce delays in the federal permitting process for mines that will produce critical minerals. Requires the development of a performance metric to evaluate progress made in improving permitting efficiency.
  • Directs the Office of Management and Budget to include mining projects on the Federal Infrastructure Projects Permitting Dashboard. Requires a report from the Small Business Administration on regulations affecting the critical minerals industry.
  • Requires Federal Register notices to be completed within 45 days, prepared at the organization level of the agency, and transmitted from the office in which the documents or meetings are held or the activity is initiated.
  • Directs the Secretary of Energy to conduct a program of research and development to promote the efficient production, use, and recycling of critical minerals throughout the supply chain, and to develop alternatives to critical minerals that do not occur in significant abundance in the US.
  • Analysis and forecasting: Directs the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with Energy Information Administration, to establish a forecasting capability for critical mineral reliance, production, price, recycling and related factors. Requires a new “Annual Critical Minerals Outlook” and protects proprietary data.
  • Education and workforce: Provides for a workforce assessment, curriculum development and programs related to critical minerals at institutions of higher education.
  • Reauthorizes the National geological and geophysical data preservation program
  • Administration: Repeals the National Critical Materials Act of 1984, makes conforming amendments, and provides two savings clauses related to the effect of critical minerals.

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