Arizona State Geologist and blogger Lee Allison has an interesting post up pointing to the recently-released U.S. Department of the Interior Economic Report 2012. The agency calculates that the “FY 2012 value added and economic contribution associated with production and activities on DOI [ie. public] lands are estimated to be $210 billion and $371 billion, respectively. These outputs are estimated to have supported 2.3 million jobs in FY 2012.”
Of particular relevance from an ARPN perspective is the passage outlining the job-supporting numbers associated with non-fuel mineral production, which the report places at 111,000, while attributing an estimated value added of $13 billion and output of $21 billion to hardrock mining nationally.
While placing a special emphasis on Arizona – where economic activities on Interior Dept. public lands supported more than 30,000 jobs – Allison points to two possible shortfalls of the report:
“The report cautions that economic value from mining and energy production are diminished because of unquantified environmental effects (“While minerals are generally traded in competitive markets (though some markets may be localized or thin), prices may not incorporate the external costs associated with mining.”).
But similar concerns are not voiced about the environmental impacts of millions of users of public lands for recreation purposes. Can it reasonably be argued that external costs of recreation are not incorporated in the prices charged?
Another issue not addressed is the difference between salaries, with those in the leisure industry typically among the lowest and those in mining among the highest.”
The findings of the report may be particularly relevant in light of the Administration’s recent decision to make land in six states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah – off limits for mineral exploration for the next twenty years, an issue our very own Daniel McGroarty recently covered for Tracy Weslosky’s website InvestorIntel.com.