Politics of Banning Precious and Critical Metal Mining in the U.S.

Politics of Banning Precious and Critical Metal Mining in the U.S.

Originally published Feb. 5, 2023 by TraderStef on CrushTheStreet

When Donald Trump left the Oval Office in 2021, his extensive list of accomplishments was summarily disregarded by legacy media apparatchiks with Biden occupying the White House. One of the first tasks undertaken by Trump in 2017 was a war on regulatory red tape within the government and economy to invigorate the economic engine of capitalism that was systemically inhibited by a heap of regulations that accumulated over decades. After a 16-month review, Biden’s Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture quietly announced regulatory action late last month that eliminates mineral leases for the world’s largest known undeveloped copper-nickel deposit and other critical minerals in a large swath of land in northern Minnesota’s Superior National Forest that’s part of the Rainy River watershed. The ongoing despotism only adds to the economic turmoil launched by Biden during his first two weeks in office when he signed off on 52 executive orders and actions that started an “Inflationary Black Gold Rush at the Gas Pump.”

President Donald J. Trump Cuts Through More Red Tape… “Since day one, President Donald J. Trump has been cutting regulatory red tape in Washington in order to help the American people and increase efficiency… President Trump signed an Executive Order (and subsequent House joint resolutions) aimed at reforming Government regulation by requiring every agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force to eliminate red tape… address the unchecked regulations from past administrations that imposed a steep cost on the American economy.” – Trump White House Archives

In between naps, Biden has issued 52 executive orders and actions destroying law and order in two weeks… “Here we are, with Biden and his handlers (whoever they may be) engaging in a fundamental transformation of our country that Barack Hussein Obama couldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams.” – Law Enforcement Today, Feb. 2021

Exemplary of the Biden administration, it claims to want oil and gas companies to drill and produce more petroleum products, but industry insiders accuse the White House of not truly supporting their industry and aiming to curb production.

Oil worker calls out Biden’s energy admission during SOTU: ‘Says one thing and does another’... “‘Joe Biden talks out of both sides of his mouth,'” Coday told co-host Ashley Strohmier. ‘Biden has the chance to prove that his administration really cares about every American and wants to lower gas prices and wants to increase production here in the United States by approving infrastructure projects, by speeding up federal permitting, by getting his boot off the national American workers and let us get to work.'” – Fox, Feb. 9, 2023

Permits approved by the Bureau of Land Management for drilling on public lands declined to its lowest number under the Biden administration… “Ryan McConnaughey, spokesperson for the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said the Biden administration has a ‘playbook’ for federal development: ‘delay, distract and deflect. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the Biden Administration’s approval of applications for permit to drill has plummeted.’ Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, said the political focus on the drilling permits and leases already held by industry is a red herring from the White House. ‘Just because Acme O&G isn’t using a permit right away doesn’t mean that ABC O&G doesn’t need one for a well it’s planning to drill now… If the federal permitting situation weren’t so inefficient and fraught with political interference, companies wouldn’t need to request a large inventory even years in advance.’” – Politico, Mar. 2022

Let’s take a look at what happened to Minnesota’s mining industry last month after years of regulatory delay:

Treasure above, riches below: Mining on the edge of the BWCA – FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul, Aug. 2019

The new regulatory roadblock for mining in northeast Minnesota literally undermines the administration’s Green New Deal utopian policies for a green energy transition that requires an expedient return of American mining and manufacturing to U.S. soil and mitigates national security concerns and reduces supply chain issues that were made painfully clear during and after pandemic lockdowns. The mining of copper is already facing a global shortage that’s manifesting and was explored in “The Copper Supply Disruption and Technical Analysis” Parts 1 (Twitter thread) and 2 (thread).

The 20-year moratorium announced last month will block mining across more than 225,000 acres of northern Minnesota forest land that’s home to some of the largest domestic mineral reserves. The ban includes Antofagasta’s Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) underground mining project, which could unlock a vast domestic supply of taconite, copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum-group elements, and others that are necessary for the renewable energy industry for electric vehicles and batteries, as well as computer systems, military defense, and essential household products.

We can no longer compete with the Chinese, who undercut our industries in the United States. It’s wild to see… “Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., called the moratorium ‘an attack on our way of life… Unfortunately, this harm to our country and our future has become the norm, as this president’s goal is to put America last’… Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., said ‘the administration’s decision to withdraw this mineral-rich area — blatantly targeting one of our country’s most promising mines — is short-sighted, foolish, and completely unscientific… Unfortunately, President Biden doesn’t seem to mind if Minnesota mining communities and the entire American pay the price.’” – Fox Business, Feb. 3, 2023

The Quetico-Superior Region and BWCA in black
Graphic Courtesy of Save the Boundary Waters (BWCA in black)

There are no active mineral leases on the Minnesota land that was withdrawn from mining, but the long-planned TMM project near Ely was slated for the area. TMM is a subsidiary of Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, which lost its mineral leases after the Biden administration hinted at a moratorium in late 2021 and then canceled TMM’s leases in early 2022, which led to legal action that’s pending. Kathy Graul, a spokeswoman for TMM, said the company was “deeply disappointed and stunned” by the new moratorium. TMM has made a multimillion-dollar investment that focused on designing, constructing, and operating an underground mine. The mining operation would bring significant long-term jobs and environmentally responsible mining for generations in Minnesota.

Encampment Minerals is not a publicly traded company that was conducting exploratory drilling on the land that’s part of the moratorium. The mining ban does not affect Minnesota taconite iron ore mines operated by U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal SA, and Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. It also does not affect a proposed nickel mine from Talon Metals that received funding from the Biden administration last year, doesn’t impact PolyMet Mining and Teck Resources in forming a joint venture to develop their Minnesota copper and nickel mining projects, nor the Rio Tinto-led team to explore carbon storage potential at Talon Metals Tamarack nickel joint venture in central Minnesota.

Despite the $2.8 billion in subsidies the Biden administration approved to boost U.S. mineral output and support domestic production of nickel, rare earth elements, and other vital materials, officials claimed that the risk to the region’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) was too great. The BWCA has been off-limits to mining since the early 1900s, but the new administration also wants the surrounding area banned from mining. This will likely result in a major court battle that will go to the Supreme Court as northern Minnesotans are left with an economy that falters amid the continuation of economic hopium and promises emanating from the White House and Capitol Hill.

As noted in the copper supply disruption series:

“If you prefer to invest or trade individual mining stocks, extra due diligence is required before putting your capital to work. Mining operations are businesses that are located throughout the world. An investor or trader should take into consideration the technical analysis of a company’s stock chart, its executive team, financial health, all-in sustaining costs (AISC) per unit of weight mined, production capacity, and any geopolitical or local issues that may impact a mining operation and its stock price.” – TraderStef

Reaction to Biden Administration’s mining ban for BWCA watershed – Northern News Now, Jan. 27

Plan Your Trade, Trade Your Plan

Headline Collage Art by TraderStef

None of the content produced by TraderStef, staff members, or any services associated with this website should be construed as financial or investment advice. Financial investment is a risky endeavor and may lead to substantial loss. Always perform due diligence before undertaking any financial decision.  Not a Financial Advisor. Copyrighted Material – A “by TraderStef” credit linked back to this website is required when using any quotes, written material, technical analysis charts, or publishing a full version of an article.