Deputy Secretary of the Interior’s View: Minnesota mining has big potential to put ‘America first’

Date: Jun 25, 2018

Minnesota is uniquely blessed with the mineral-resource wealth of the Iron Range. Ore from the Iron Range was fired and forged into the vast majority of the steel that supplied our nation during World War II. At that time the United States supplied over half of the world’s steel. Today, our nation finds itself largely dependent upon foreign nations for many important resource needs, including critical minerals, despite our tremendous geological resources.

The Department of the Interior — which manages 20 percent of the acreage in the United States, or one in every five acres — is working hard to decrease this foreign dependence. Under the direction of President Donald Trump, Interior is focusing on economic development in rural America. Public lands throughout our nation have vast mineral resources that belong to every citizen in this country.

Minnesota is the largest producer of iron ore and taconite in the United States, and Minnesota’s strong mining tradition continues today. Areas of Minnesota, notably the Duluth Complex, are known as among the world’s largest undeveloped deposits of platinum group metals, a critical mineral group that is crucial to advancing our tech economy.

The previous presidential administration made it a priority to take a lot of these resources off the table. The Trump administration has changed course. On Dec. 20, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to support domestic production of critical minerals. Under the bold leadership of President Trump and Secretary Ryan Zinke, Interior has reversed course, and we are all in on America.

Interior has freed up more than 10 million acres to mining exploration from California to Nevada that the last administration sought to close. In order to streamline permitting, Interior has proposed common-sense policies to reduce overly complicated and confusing, thousand-page environmental documents so they are more readable and better inform decision-making.

We have set aggressive goals to finish environmental analyses within one year on normal projects. Interior also has reduced permitting approval times by reforming our business processes. Documents do not simply sit for weeks or months on a bureaucrat’s desk in Washington.

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