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Under the 1872 Mining Law “mining companies–many of them foreign-owned–have taken over $300 billion worth of valuable metals from public lands without paying a nickel in royalties to the American people.” http://democrats-naturalresources.house.gov/subcommittees/energy-and-mineral-resources It’s not just public lands. The US government owns the mineral rights of many private lands. When the US government gave away so much land in the west, it retained some, and perhaps most, of the mineral rights. Rather than using it for the good of the country, the US government allows private, often foreign, mining companies to legally steal the gold, silver and other precious and/or critical minerals under the 1872 mining law. The land was stolen from the American Indians, only to be given away to third parties. Go figure. This is the backdrop to the “Draft List of Critical Minerals“.

Draft List of Critical Minerals Comment Deadline is Mar 19, 2018 11:59 PM ET (US Eastern Time – presumably daylight savings time so it should say EDT, late Monday night) Docket ID: DOI-2018-0001 Agency: Department of the Interior (DOI)
Comment can be anonymous. Comment here: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=DOI-2018-0001 More, including some sample comments, here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/us-critical-minerals-list-comment-deadline-monday-night-uranium-should-be-removed-focus-should-be-on-recycling-new-materials-innovation-exports-should-be-banned/

If a law as abusive as the 1872 Mining Law existed in another country, there would be outrage. But, almost no one appears to care that America’s being robbed of its minerals by foreign mining companies and the land destroyed. Sometimes this is public lands, and sometimes it is private land, where the US government retained mineral rights, after giving the land away to homesteaders.

Collapse of British-Australian Rio Tinto Group’s Bingham Canyon Mine.

NASA image of Bingham Canyon Mine Collapse

If a mineral is “critical” for national security, then export should not be allowed. And, actually, if it is critical for national security, then the mining, and any related businesses, should be nationalized. This would actually be easier and more logical than one might think as a lot of land in the western US, and even more mineral rights, is US government owned. Thus, instead of allowing foreign companies to mine and export critical minerals, with no benefits to the American people, the US government can do the mining and keep the strategically critical minerals.

Right now, huge multinational mining companies can extract gold, silver and other valuable hardrock minerals that belong to American taxpayers without paying a dime under a mining law passed when Ulysses S. Grant was President,” [US Senator] Markey said. “The mining law of 1872 isn’t just outdated, it’s outrageous.” https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/us-hardrock-mining-and-reclamation-act-of-2015-still-patently-unfair/

Uranium is on the critical minerals list, but some is exported. Canadian Miner Energy Fuel’s US uranium mine’s largest customer has been South Korea, apparently state-owned KEPCO, which acquired over a third of the uranium. Since KEPCO is building, and apparently to operate, a nuclear power station for the United Arab Emirates, eventually the uranium could end up in that reactor, and even in UAE nuclear weapons. See: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2016/07/30/canadian-miner-energy-fuels-destroying-us-public-land-to-send-uranium-to-s-korea-not-even-royalties-for-bankrupt-us-govt-aug-1st-aug-30th-comment-deadlines It is an especially good time to nationalize Russian owned Uranium One mines. Although US companies, such as Exxon, are still operating in Russia, they shouldn’t be. As well, once Russia’s benefitted from all of Exxon’s know-how at Sakhalin, they will probably expropriate and nationalize Exxon’s part. Exxon is probably insured by the US taxpayer if this happens.

As a “fuel” mineral, uranium is not supposed to be on the list, but was put there anyway: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/us-critical-minerals-list-comment-deadline-monday-night-uranium-should-be-removed-focus-should-be-on-recycling-new-materials-innovation-exports-should-be-banned/

Con-artists within the US government and without chant national security, energy security for oil and gas, and uranium, but then export some of it. If uranium is left on the list, then all uranium mines, processing and even the UK-Dutch-German URENCO fuel enrichment site should be nationalized with payment. Honeywell’s conversion facility can be, as well.

Mining of gold, silver, copper, and other metals on public lands is still governed by the Mining Law of 1872, an antiquated statute that was designed to encourage the settlement of the American West. Since that law was passed, mining companies–many of them foreign-owned–have taken over $300 billion worth of valuable metals from public lands without paying a nickel in royalties to the American people.” http://democrats-naturalresources.house.gov/subcommittees/energy-and-mineral-resources See: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/us-hardrock-mining-and-reclamation-act-of-2015-still-patently-unfair/

Under the 1872 Mining Law, “mining companies not only pay virtually nothing for the public’s minerals, but they also get subsidized to mine public minerals they were freely given in the first place. In total, between FY-11 and FY-17, the PDA, expensing and reclamation deductions costs taxpayers approximately $360 million dollars every year. Taxpayers also subsidize the cost of mine clean up. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the clean up cost for our nation’s approximately 500,000 hardrock abandoned mine sites ranges around $50 billion.” (Testimony of Aaron Mintzes, Senior Policy Counsel, Earthworks before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, HR 520, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, February 15, 2018: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/national-strategic-and-critical-minerals-production-act-testimony-draft-list-of-critical-minerals-comment-deadline-tonight-monday-1159-pm-eastern-ny-dc-time )

In stark contrast to the US 1872 Mining law, Haiti’s Constitution 1987 constitution makes clear that proceeds from mining should accrue in equitable parts to the landowner, the state, and the mining permit holder, as well as other protections: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/mining-law-the-constitution-and-private-property-in-haiti

Trump’s executive order “Presidential Executive Order on a Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals“, December 20, 2017, actually has a couple of good points:
 “(i) a strategy to reduce the Nation’s reliance on critical minerals;
(ii) an assessment of progress toward developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies, and technological alternatives to critical minerals;….https://web.archive.org/web/20171222124553/https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/presidential-executive-order-federal-strategy-ensure-secure-reliable-supplies-critical-minerals

Alternatives include innovations such as conductive plastics. Innovation, in conjunction with recycling and zero population growth, would allow the land, water, and trees to be saved from the devastation of mining.

Innovation can be by US government labs, or private “free enterprise” innovation. However, the US government must stop giving away innovations paid for by the tax payer to private companies, as has so frequently been the case.

Click to access cmi-orgchart-research-july-2017.pdf

Instead of an end run around one of our most important environmental laws, Congress should focus their efforts on increasing research in recycling, reuse, and alternatives. The Department of Energy leads a Critical Materials Institute with a $120 million budget to research alternatives, reduce waste, and diversify production. In Japan, Honda expects to recover 80 percent of rare-earth metals contained in some of their used nickel-metal-hydride car batteries. In Germany, Siemens is researching recycling rare earths from electric vehicle motors.

Conservation, recycling and substitution will each do more to ensure available supply of the minerals we need than a bill that guts community input in mining decisions that affect their water and health. The United States should be embracing innovation, demanding best practices, and leading the world with a 21st century mining law that protects our precious water resources. This leadership will only come when we have reformed the antiquated 1872 Mining Law and closed loopholes in our bedrock environmental laws that allow foreign mining corporations to take our minerals for nothing leaving us only with perpetual waste.” Testimony of Aaron Mintzes-Earthworks-February 15, 2018: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/03/19/national-strategic-and-critical-minerals-production-act-testimony-draft-list-of-critical-minerals-comment-deadline-tonight-monday-1159-pm-eastern-ny-dc-time )

Zero population growth is essential to conservation, and means just that – immigration should only be allowed if people leave (emigration) or if birth rate is below replacement. The US is a colonial settler state and the environment has been destroyed in record time. The environment was pristine and virtually undamaged under Native American care.

As pointed out in a comment already submitted and copied into our earlier post, it is important to monitor recycled metals-imported steel for radioactive materials-ionizing radiation: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/03/16/us-critical-minerals-list-comment-deadline-monday-night-uranium-should-be-removed-focus-should-be-on-recycling-new-materials-innovation-exports-should-be-banned/

One comment mentions the possibility of extracting some essential minerals from pet coke tar sands waste: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2018-0001-0086

Processing of petroleum coke for recovery of vanadium and nickel
Volume 22, Issues 1–2, June 1989, Pages 3-24
Certain South and North American oils and tars contain substantial quantities of both vanadium and nickel that are concentrated during refining in the by-prodict petroleum coke. A pressure oxidation process has been developed in the laboratory for solubilization of vanadium from the coke as sodium vanadate.”

See too: https://web.anl.gov/PCS/acsfuel/preprint%20archive/Files/36_4_NEW%20YORK_08-91_1793.pdf