US Mining Industry Pushes to Revive the Bureau of Mines

Mining trade groups in the United States are planning to push Washington to revive and expand the long-dormant Bureau of Mines, an effort aimed at streamlining how the U.S. government regulates and supports critical minerals production. This lobbying campaign is set to launch this month, ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

The National Mining Association, the American Exploration & Mining Association, and the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) are spearheading this push, which aims to contrast the scattered U.S. mining oversight with the more centralized approaches in countries like Australia.

The Bureau of Mines was closed in 1996 during budget cuts, and the groups argue that reviving it and adding new responsibilities could allow Washington to craft a unified critical minerals policy for permitting, research funding, and industry grants and loans. This, they say, could help the U.S. better compete with China, which is the world’s largest producer or processor of many critical minerals.

The groups acknowledge that they are unlikely to succeed this year, but hope to do so in the next Congress, which runs from 2025 to 2027. They have not yet estimated how much funding a revived Bureau of Mines would need.

Critics of this plan note that the original Bureau of Mines never oversaw mine permitting, and that mines could still face opposition from conservation groups and environmental regulators. Additionally, elevating the bureau to a cabinet-level agency, which would be necessary for it to report directly to the president, would require congressional approval.

The White House has stated that it continues to advance responsible and sustainable mining through the efforts of federal agencies such as the Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense.

US Mining Industry Pushes to Revive the Bureau of Mines
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