Can you introduce the NMA?
The NMA is primarily an advocacy organization, which acts as the voice of mining in the US. We are located in Washington D.C., where we advocate on pro-mining policies with the US government, members of Congress and the regulatory agencies. We are a staff of professionals that manage and leverage the advocacy platforms of the association, such as direct lobbying, media relations and grassroots advocacy at the state and local levels. Our more than 250 members include producers, equipment manufacturers and service providers.
What makes the US an attractive mining investment destination?
The US offers a stable operational base for mining companies due to its solid governance structure and consistent policies. The country also offers robust environmental and labor standards that ensure that all the stakeholders are protected. Our role as the NMA is to ensure transparency, fairness and timeliness throughout this system, and that there is a path for decisions to be made to permit or expand existing and new mines.
How would you describe Nevada’s mining industry?
Mining is central to Nevada’s economy as the fourth largest producer of gold in the world, but it also holds vast quantities of silver, copper, lithium, iron and molybdenum. Nevada is a particularly attractive mining investment destination in the US due to its skilled labor force, the ease in moving goods and products, the availability of services, and the support by Nevada’s communities. In Nevada, around 90% of the land is public and owned by the federal government. This facilitates the access to land where hard rock minerals can be found.
What socio-economic impact does the mining industry have in Nevada?
According to our most recent data, the state’s mining industry directly employs nearly 50,000 people. The industry also contributes US$11.4 billion to the state’s GDP.
How do you see the prospects for funding mining projects?
Our stability attracts international capital. We are witnessing an exponential increase in the demand for Nevada’s minerals including copper, nickel, gold, silver and lithium as the economy moves towards electrification and with the transformation of our energy sector. The demand for these minerals will also boom as the world recovers from the pandemic, infrastructure projects take off, along with the manufacturing of technologically advanced machinery and equipment that rely on these metals. The market is aware of that, which is why we are currently witnessing a race to find these deposits and to develop them as quickly as possible.
Do you think the US has the potential to become a significant player in the critical minerals value chain?
The demand for all minerals – not just so-called critical minerals – is so great that we cannot have an “us versus them” narrative. Every country has a role to play. Certainly, Canada and Australia have fantastic deposits that they are developing quickly, and we need to the same in the US, which is part of the mission of the NMA.
While there are certainly minerals that are currently dominating the headlines and drawing the most attention – chief among them those involved in energy and battery technologies – that focus overlooks co-location of minerals and the production of minerals as byproducts of processing or refining of other minerals. Much of the world’s cobalt is accessed through copper production. We have a member company that is working to recover tellurium used in solar panels as byproduct of copper refining. A planned gold project in the US could provide 35% of the nation’s antinomy needs. And yet neither copper nor gold are listed as critical minerals. I would also add that advancements in battery power – so essential to electric vehicles and the electricity grid of the future – continues to evolve and will inevitably involve a wide range of battery types in the near future, with each requiring different minerals.
To promote these ideas in the US, we have a campaign underway called Minerals Make Life. It seeks to raise awareness on the importance of a wide range of minerals for society and on the need to source them in the US. By working with the administration and the Congress, the NMA has incentivized actions to try to promote the reshoring of the mineral and metal supply chain in this country. Nevada has a significant role to play in that.