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Minerals mining in Arizona can help spur U.S. economic growth by Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, and Joe H

The explosion in worldwide demand for minerals is good for Arizona’s mineral producers, including the state’s copper mines, which produce more copper than all the other 49 states combined and account for more than 60 percent of the nation’s total copper production. Arizona’s mineral mines have also made a positive contribution to our state and national economy.

According to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, mineral mining in Arizona supported more than 62,000 jobs, contributed roughly $7.5 billion to the state’s GDP and generated $1.8 billion in taxes to local, state and federal governments in 2008. And that’s just Arizona. More than 1.1 million jobs are supported nationwide by mineral mining, and last year U.S. manufacturing used minerals to make products or provide services that added more than $2 trillion to the economy – approximately 14 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Impressive as they are, with an estimated $6.2 trillion in key mineral resources and more commodity minerals and metals than a ny other country, these numbers fall short of reflecting our true economic potential. We can do more to meet our domestic mineral needs and provide a reliable chain of supply to American manufacturers and technology providers. As emerging economies embrace new technologies and build infrastructure, the demand for minerals, especially copper, continues to increase here and abroad. But, because U.S. policies have stymied domestic mineral development, over the last 30 years we have become increasingly import-dependent, despite our vast reserves. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, in 1978 theUnitedStates was 100 percent import-dependent for seven minerals.

Today, we’re 100 percent dependent on 18 minerals and import billions of dollars’ worth of minerals, even ones we could produce here. This overreliance on imports, coupled with flat production throughout the years, puts our economy, national security and ability to Advertisement innovate at an increased risk of supply disruptions. Thankfully, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado understand the importance of mineral mining to Arizona, their home states and the nation. They each introduced legislation to better assess our mineral-supply needs and alleviate supply restrictions. Importantly, their proposals take a fresh look at the role inefficient permitting may play in exacerbating mineral-supply constraints. Recently, Lamborn’s bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee with unanimous, bipartisan approval.

A more efficient permitting process could enable us to better utilize our domestic resources and harness their full economic potential to create more American jobs and give a much-needed boost to our economy. Fundamentally, minerals provide the raw materials necessary to keep the economy moving – as a driver of jobs and economic development. As Congress considers solutions to address our nation’s mineral needs, it must remember that minerals are critical to the equation of achieving sustainable economic growth . We encourage members of our state’s congressional delegation to support legislation introduced by Murkowski and Lamborn. These sensible policies will help strengthen our nation’s mineral-supply chain, improve American competiveness and enhance our quality of life.

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