Murkowski floats draft bill to develop US mineral strategy

China controls 97 percent of the world’s rare-earth mineral supply. The country announced late last year that it would cut its export quotas of the minerals, raising concerns about U.S. dependence on Chinese supply.

Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is seeking comment on her draft legislation by May 6 in hopes of being able to introduce a bill that can quickly gain bipartisan support.

“With so much attention paid to our reliance on foreign oil, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that other minerals are also critical to our economy. This legislation would modernize our mineral policies to bolster domestic production, protect the environment, expand manufacturing and promote recycling,” Murkowski said.

The National Mining Association (NMA) quickly praised the draft bill Friday. The bill "lays out a constructive path forward for the U.S. not only to 'promote an adequate and stable supply of critical minerals' to meet our nation's needs, it also sets vital policy goals that will make investments in U.S. minerals production more attractive-generating jobs and economic growth throughout our economy," NMA President Hal Quinn said in a statement.

Here’s a summary of the various provisions in the bill, via Murkowski’s office:

• DESIGNATIONS – creates a process for designating minerals as critical based upon a review of potential supply restrictions and the importance of their use

• POLICY – articulates a statement of policy regarding presidential leadership on the critical minerals supply chain

• RESOURCES – seeks an updated assessment of critical mineral resources located in the United States, in coordination with state geologic surveys

• PERMITTING – establishes a working group to review permitting, quantify delays, assess environmental protections and recommend improvements

• MANUFACTURING – facilitates memoranda of agreement between states and the federal government on coordinated permitting for manufacturing facilities

• RECYCLING AND ALTERNATIVES – authorizes research to promote the efficient use and recycling of critical minerals as well as alternatives to them

• ANALYSIS AND FORECASTING – builds upon existing capabilities to provide more forward-looking analyses of critical mineral supply chain trends

• EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE – provides workforce assessments, curriculum development, worker training and associated grant authorizations

• INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION – reaffirms interagency coordination to share critical mineral information and practices via diplomatic channels