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COVID-19-Related Supply Chain Challenges Fuel Calls for Strengthening Domestic Resource Development

In a new piece for the National Journal, Brian Dabbs takes a closer look at efforts on Capitol Hill to address the United States’ “strained” supply chain for pharmaceuticals and medical devices and beyond.

He reports that a push to pass “legislation to boost U.S. production of dozens of minerals to stave off similar crises in the future,” — subject to some controversy before the coronavirus pandemic hit — may be renewed as “House staffers are starting to talk across committee lines on the legislation land broader efforts to shore up U.S. supply chains.” On the Senate side, he says, staff is “pitching the legislation, and a more comprehensive energy package, to leadership for potential inclusion in recovery-oriented coronavirus bills down the road.”

This is a welcome development. As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty recently pointed out,

“Just as critical medicines from China are integrated across the U.S. health care spectrum, so too are critical minerals imbedded into all aspects of the U.S. supply chains for energy, high-tech manufacturing – and most worryingly, national defense. Everything, in short, that makes 21st century America the economic and military power that it is.”

The National Mining Association — which has been an outspoken supporter of the above-referenced legislation, the American Mineral Security Act sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), — points to the fact that minerals are also key building blocks of medical devices, and can play an important role in fighting COVID-19 and future pandemics, with antibiotics often using silver, which is known for preventing bacterial growth, and copper, the antimicrobial properties of which ARPN has recently outlined on several occasions.

****Read Dan McGroarty’s “Copper Beats Corona:
A New, Old Weapon Against Viruses” here.****

Dabbs cites NMA spokeswoman Ashley Burke, who said:

“The pandemic and, specifically, the need to domestically mass-produce medical and health care products and technologies, highlights the urgency with which we must encourage and support domestic mining. We’ve learned just how incomplete a solution stockpiling can be in a crisis when demand surges.”

While the “contours of the next coronavirus relief package are still unclear,” as Dabbs writes, it is encouraging to see that lawmakers and industry leaders alike are beginning to realize the importance of increasing domestic mineral resource development to “strengthening U.S. industry and domestic supply chains” and reduce dependencies on foreign supplies.