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5/5/2016 by mdc
Harry Moser reports that one of the many surprises coming out of the current, tumultuous presidential election cycle is the degree to which manufacturing has emerged as a significant campaign issue. Candidates are now openly pledging to oppose trade agreements perceived as hurting the U.S. manufacturers. And while trade policy is only one aspect of the overall debate, it is clear that candidates are recognizing the importance of manufacturing to the American economy.

A quick glance at the U.S. industrial landscape tells a profound story ... America has lost more than five million manufacturing jobs since 2000, with more than 50,000 factories closed. Several factors are involved, but one critical aspect remains overlooked ... the connection between the U.S. mining industry and the health of the U.S. manufacturing base.

Metals and minerals are integral to the American standard of living. Thanks to not-so-small luxuries like cars, homes, roads, and electronics, each young American today will depend in his or her lifetime on an estimated 27,416 pounds of iron ore, 978 pounds of copper, 521 pounds of zinc, and 1.8 ounces of gold.

And then there are the industries of tomorrow. For example, nuclear power plants requires tons of graphite, one wind turbine requires 8,000 pounds of copper. A hybrid car requires 9 pounds of nickel, and the average electric vehicle battery contains 9 pounds of lithium.

All of this means mining, and the countries that produce these minerals and metals will reap the benefits in terms of jobs and economic growth. In 2012, U.S. mines directly employed more than 630,000 workers, for wages totaling $46 billion.

Unfortunately, U.S. mining industry is not living up to its full potential. New mining operations are being artificially constrained due to a duplicative and drawn-out mine permitting process. The result is a troubling delay in the opening of new mines, and longer wait times when manufacturers require key metals and minerals.

Read on.

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