Mining follows the trend to re-shore to the USA

We have heard a lot in recent years about re-shoring. Simply, the return of manufacturing capacity wilfully relinquished to China over the last 20 years, back to the USA. Or at least we have heard about near-shoring to lower labor cost partners like Mexico. Few would argue it would be good for the US economy, for jobs and for security. But, however many industries shift manufacturing capacity closer to home, it would still leave one of the world’s most resource rich countries highly vulnerable to raw material supply.
At the whim of foreign powers
As Europe has discovered, leaving itself vulnerable to a foreign power for major economic necessities, in the European case natural gas, has the region completely at the mercy of fluctuating supply, never mind the possibility of political blackmail. While the low hanging fruit in metal resources saw extraction in the 1800 and 1900’s across the USA, large levels of lower grade material still abound. Grades exploited in the rest of the world have become closer to global norms than they appeared back in the 1960’s to 1990’s when they went abandoned. Nor did mineral content even serve as the sole or main reason for the closing of mines. Often, environmental legislation or failures that raised costs to uncompetitive levels compared to jurisdictions around the world that applied little or no environmental oversight led to closures.
Bunker Hill back on the scene
One such iconic name was Bunker Hill in northern Idaho. As a FT post explains, for nearly 100 years from the late 1800’s Bunker Hill served as one of the most prolific mines in North America — producing more than 165m ounces of silver and 5m tons of base metals such as lead. In fact lead lead contributed to that closure in the 1980’s. In the preceding decade, Bunker Hill served as the site of an appalling case of community lead exposure resulting in the eventual closure of the mine.
But new owners Canada listed Bunker Hill Mining appear close to striking a deal that would raise $50m and see them commit to pay the EPA a total of $19m in annual installments in return for avoiding liability to prior clean up costs. The $50m initial round of funding will come from the sale of future metal production the FT reports. The company hopes to start production late next year working the upper levels to fund further exploration and exploitation of lower levels where the company believes substantial untapped resources remain. Mine waste would be stored underground in old workings and modern technologies developed this century would improve extraction efficiencies and manage environmental costs.
The firm appears bullish that mid cap miners, like themselves, could exploit multiple previously worked but not exhausted resources in North America by applying modern technologies and automation to manage environmental controls and costs. If they are correct, production from such home-grown resources could to some extent, supplement some of the substantial imports into the USA of ores and refined metals, completing a piece of the near-shoring jigsaw so long missing.

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