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150-year-old law governing key industry needs update in Congress, mining report says

Last year, the Biden administration appointed a working group to study mining regulations and permitting.

It has issued its final recommendations, which include a hard look at the nation’s mining law, which is about 150 years old.

The report says that mining will take on renewed importance in the fight against climate change, as manufacturers look for critical minerals to produce items such as batteries and solar panels.

It noted the industry’s importance to the nation’s development, as well as its environmental costs and the fact that current law does not require companies to pay royalties.

Aaron Weiss, of the Center for Western Priorities, said the report could serve as a good foundation for mining reform.

"From what we can tell on the first read here, this is a thoughtful, and important report," Weiss said.

He said that many of the report’s recommendations are in mining legislation introduced earlier this year by Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva.

"The fundamental solution is going to have to come from Congress," he said. "We cannot meet America’s mining needs with 150-year-old law."

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Ron Dungan was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2024.