- Slow and cumbersome approval processes for U.S. mining projects are hindering the country's ability to compete and meet rising global demand for minerals from copper to gold, an industry study released on Thursday shows.
The report commissioned by the National Mining Association found the duplicative permitting process can delay mining projects by a decade or longer, potentially deterring companies from investing in domestic schemes.
"The U.S. permitting system is plagued with excessive costs, delays and many inefficiencies," NMA President and Chief Executive Officer Hal Quinn said in a conference call ahead of the study's release.
Republicans Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada have introduced legislation aimed at capping environmental reviews at 30 months. A hearing on the bill will take place on Thursday.
Opponents to such a move say the reviews are needed to ensure the environmental impact of mining is minimized.
"Hopefully (the report) will strengthen the resolve of Congress to fix a broken permit system that threatens to break down a minerals supply chain that is critical for U.S. manufacturing," Quinn said.
Countries with vast natural resources, such as Australia and Canada, have quicker, more efficient processes, while also maintaining environmental standards, Quinn said. The United States accounts for 7 percent of global exploration expenditures.
An average mine can lose a third of its value due to delays, while inefficiencies increase costs and investment risk, reducing the chance of a new mine advancing into production.
After eight years of delays, the value of Arizona's Rosemont mine, owned by HudBay Minerals Inc, dropped $3 billion, the study said.
In Alaska, the Kensington mine, owned by Coeur Mining Inc, suffered 20 years of mining delays, while the capital cost of building the mine increased by 49 percent, it found.