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It’s Not Fairy Dust: Unleashing the Potential of American Manufacturing Requires Understanding of Underlying Fundamentals

With the first primaries only weeks away, the Presidential campaign season is in full swing. As candidates continue to trade barbs on a broad variety of issues (and non-issues), the American electorate remains most concerned about the state of the U.S. economy.

A “renaissance” in manufacturing has helped create jobs in a post-recession economy. However, as Harry Moser, founder of the Reshoring Initiative, points out in a recent piece for Industry Week, several reports show that manufacturing is “still on shaky ground.”

In this environment, policy makers and candidates should focus on creating framework that is conducive to unleashing the potential of American manufacturing.  Specifically, Moser’s recommendation for government to reduce the regulatory burden hampering America’s manufacturers will sound familiar to ARPN followers:

“One immediate step Washington can take to support American manufacturers is to reform the permitting process for U.S. minerals and metals mines. As the literal building blocks of manufacturing, and with demand for minerals expected to rise in the coming years, it’s no small wonder that 91 percent of manufacturing executives are concerned about the availability of minerals and metals and supply disruptions outside of their control.

The current U.S. mine permitting process — which can take the better part of a decade to complete — prevents these manufacturers from reaping the benefits of an estimated $6.2 trillion worth of domestic minerals and metals. Despite the U.S. being one of the largest mineral repositories in the world, manufacturers are more than 50 percent dependent on imports for 43 key minerals.” 

Indeed, overhauling the United States’ onerous permitting system for mining projects would be a critical step in the right direction, as demonstrated by a recent study commissioned by the National Mining Association.  However, legislation to address this issue has not made it out of Congress in recent years. Perhaps, as ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty and Karr McCurdy, CEO of mining advisory firm Behre Dolbear pointed out in a piece for Forbes last year, there needs to be a greater awareness of an often ignored fundamental:

“But as a precursor to sound policy, the nation needs a change in mind-set: It’s time to remind ourselves that life as we know it is made possible by the inventive use of metals and minerals. Smart phones, the Cloud, the Internet: These things may seem to work by magic, but quite often the backbone of high-tech is mineral and metal, not fairy dust. Failure to mine what we can here in the U.S. simply perpetuates dangerous dependencies on nations that may not wish us well.

Responsible development of domestic mineral resources should be a policy priority. Our ability to grow our economy, revive American industry, and safeguard our national security – depends upon it.”



  • Jeff Dalto

    Beyond the issue of a change in regulations (which may or may not happen but is certainly beyond the control of any average citizen), another way to make mining more profitable and efficient is training.

    I work with a lot of mines, and a lot of the employee training is minimal, particularly beyond MSHA-mandated safety training. That’s not true at all mines, of course, and it’s more true at smaller mines than larger ones (and/or at mines owned by larger companies). But it’s still something many companies can improve.

    The link below focuses on MSHA-mandated safety training, but the tools discussed could be used for any kind of training at a mine site: