Idaho May Hold the Key to Breaking National Dependency on Foreign Steel
by Shaun Dykes, President & CEO and Lisa Anderson, Vice President of Government Relations
Idaho CuMo Mining Corporation (ICMC)
President Trump has called for massive infrastructure investments with proposals ranging from $500 billion to $1.1 trillion. The Administration’s infrastructure plan expresses their intent to use American-made materials to rebuild or expand roads, airports, railroads and pipelines. They have taken an unwavering “buy American; hire American” stance in relation to rebuilding the United States’ aging infrastructure and increasing defense capabilities.
The U.S. has the engineering expertise, a highly-skilled workforce, and the technology to undertake this expansive improvement initiative. However, the country is faced with an inadequate supply of domestic steel, especially high-grade molybdenum steel. This shortage presents an exceptional opportunity for Idaho’s molybdenum deposits, particularly the developing CuMo Project in Boise County.
Idaho is rich in molybdenum, a strategic metal used primarily as an alloying agent in steel, cast iron, and super alloys to enhance hardening ability, strength, toughness, wear, and corrosion resistance. Many of the projects proposed by the Trump Administration will require molybdenum-enhanced steel to assure that it will endure for decades to come. It has been shown that pipelines constructed with molybdenum steel last two to three times longer than other types of steel.
The world’s demand for molybdenum continues to rise, with the International Molybdenum Association estimating that the world will need an additional 200 million pounds annually over the next decade. While the demand for domestic steel increases, the U.S. imports 100 percent of 20 strategic metals and minerals and 50 percent of 30 more.
The CuMo Project, under the management of Idaho CuMo Mining Corporation (ICMC), is positioned perfectly to lead the nation in closing the gap between the supply and demand necessary to meet the Administration’s infrastructure plans. CuMo has the potential to produce 70 million pounds of molybdenum per year for decades, while providing thousands of well-paying jobs in one of the State’s poorest counties. Decades of strategic exploration and environmental studies have demonstrated the CuMo Project to be environmentally safe, an extremely low-cost producer, and a sustainable job source for up to 100 years.
However, despite its enormous promise and potential, the permitting process continues to delay this much-needed project and others throughout the U.S. To date, ICMC has spent over $3.3 million and 10 years in complying with NEPA regulations and processes; some of which are standard and some of which are considered extraordinary and duplicative measures for a project of this type. Clearly, the NEPA process is not working as it was intended. Both the U.S. House and Senate have introduced bills (H.R. 520, S. 145) that, should they pass and be signed into law, will require federal agencies to stick to the 30-month statutory permitting timeline for “strategic and critical minerals” mining projects on federal land.
Other countries have already reconciled their high environmental standards and the need to produce sustainable, domestic sources of strategic minerals and metals. Australia and Canada adhere to similarly stringent, environmental platforms and permitting processes for mines, yet it takes only 2-3 years to navigate.
The U.S. must learn to maintain strict regulatory oversight while simultaneously streamlining the permitting process for critical, strategic mineral projects, thus loosening our national dependency on foreign sources. Our closest environmental allies are successfully doing it. With the resolve of Congress and the President’s Administration, the U.S. is positioned to follow suit. By doing so, our national security and economy will improve immensely with secure and sustainable domestic sources of strategic minerals and metals. The time is now for Congress to act.
President & CEO
Idaho CuMo Mining Corporation
Vice President of Government Relations
Idaho CuMo Mining Corporation