A:

Government regulation has a profound impact on the metals and mining sector. Lengthy permit processes cause significant delays in getting new mining projects up and running. The average time to get the permits needed for a new mine in the United States is seven to ten years.

Mining companies are required to get approval from several levels of government – local, county, state and federal – before starting a new project. Multiple governmental agencies may be involved at each of these levels. Tribal governments, non-governmental organizations and the general public are often involved in the processes as well.

Some of the federal agencies that must approve mining projects include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers. Over three dozen federal environmental laws and regulations impact mining. Most new mines are subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires a lengthy environmental impact statement. The Clean Air Act regulates airborne emissions and contaminants. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act protects federal lands from degradation. The Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act govern surface water quality and underground injections into aquifers. In addition, there are federal laws regulating solid waste disposal and potentially toxic substances. The Endangered Species Act requires protection plans for any animals or plants that could be impacted as well.

Some of the most common permits required from state governments concern air and water quality. Local jurisdictions and counties have separate sets of requirements for zoning and land use. In many cases, extensive public input is part of the process.

The environmental impact statements, feasibility studies and other documents that a mining company is required to produce cost millions of dollars and take several years to complete. A report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the average time to complete an environmental impact statement in 2012 was 4.6 years. Government scientists and technical experts review all of the data submitted by the mining company during the permit processes.

One current example of a delayed mining project is the proposed Rosemont Copper mine near Tucson, Arizona. Since 2007, Hudbay Minerals and its predecessor, Augusta Resources, have been seeking approval for a mine that would be the third largest in the U.S., producing 243 million pounds of copper. The company has undergone a multiyear NEPA process, conducted environmental and economic impact studies, and produced a comprehensive water reclamation plan. The Rosemont Copper mine is still awaiting additional approval and permits before it can begin operations.

The typical causes of permit delays are government bureaucracy and litigation. Environmental groups often file suit against proposed new mining operations. When this occurs, the mining company must commit significant resources and time to fight the case in court.

RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the long-term outlook of the metals and mining sector?

    Take a look at the long-term outlook for the metals and mining sector as reported by the industry agency council of the World ... Read Answer >>
  2. What value metrics are best for analyzing companies in the metals and mining sector?

    Learn what some of the best valuation measures are that analysts commonly use to evaluate companies in the metals and mining ... Read Answer >>
  3. How does regulation impact the electronics sector?

    Learn more about production regulation in the electronics industry and how these regulations may contribute to lesser productivity ... Read Answer >>
  4. What does the grade of a gold mine refer to?

    Discover how gold mines are graded, how the World Gold Council defines a high-grade gold mine, and where the highest graded ... Read Answer >>
  5. What factors affect the price of copper?

    Take a in-depth look at the various factors, big and small, that influence the price of copper in international markets and ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Small Business

    Make Sure Your Business Complies with These 3 Environmental Laws

    Discover why 1970 is considered the year of the environment, and learn about several major environmental laws with which businesses must comply.
  2. Tech

    Apple: Don't Mine Cryptocurrencies on an iPhone

    An updated set of developer guidelines has outlawed cryptocurrency mining on iOS devices.
  3. Investing

    The Biggest Risks Mining Stocks Face

    In this article, we will examine the risks shared by major and junior mining stocks, and what they mean to investors.
  4. Tech

    Are Large Mining Pools Bad For Cryptocurrencies?

    Cryptocurrency mining are being done on expensive mining pools run by large firms. Is this bad for cryptocurrencies?
  5. Tech

    Is Bitcoin Mining Still Profitable?

    Recent changes in technology and the creation of professional mining centers individual miners are asking themselves, is bitcoin mining still profitable?
  6. Tech

    How Do Cryptocurrency Mining Pools Work?

    Here's how cryptocurrency mining pools work.
  7. Tech

    How Do You Mine Ethereum?

    Mining for ethereum is a profitable, essential, and oftentimes confusing process. Here's the basics of how to do it.
  8. Tech

    Zcash Mining is 4 Times More Profitable Than Bitcoin Mining

    ZEC is 400% more profitable to mine than BTC.
  9. Insights

    The 6 Biggest Chinese Mining Companies

    Here are six of China's largest mining companies, making the country a major player in the mining industry and supplying a huge portion of global metal and coal demand.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Cloud Mining

    Cloud mining offers a mechanism to mine a cryptocurrency such ...
  2. Environmental Economics

    Environmental economics is an area of economics that studies ...
  3. Mining Pool

    A mining pool is a joint group of cryptocurrency miners who combine ...
  4. Environmental Impact Statement

    An Environmental Impact Statement is a report addressing the ...
  5. Mining

    Mining validates transactions on the cryptocurrency network and ...
  6. Data Mining

    Data mining is a process used by companies to turn raw data into ...
Trading Center