A bill to ease permitting for domestic mines providing strategic and critical minerals, which includes aggregates used in infrastructure projects, advanced last week in Congress despite partisan objections, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA).
The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015, H.R. 1937, introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) was approved by a vote of 23-14 on July 9 by the House Natural Resources Committee. In the past, members of the U.S. House of Representatives have criticized similar bills for going beyond what they consider to be critical minerals such as rare earth minerals used in electronics.
The legislation would recognize that aggregates are strategic and critical minerals in the eyes of the government and essential to construction, whether pavement (horizontal construction) or buildings and dams (vertical construction).
“We appreciate that this legislation includes the aggregates imperative to infrastructure as ‘critical and strategic.’ Construction or reconstruction of bridges, roads, highways, ports and runways can’t proceed without access to these essential natural resources,” said NSSGA Senior Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Pam Whitted.