09.17.2020 0

Russia, China Locking up America’s Natural Resources

Bingham Canyon Mine, known today as the Kennecott Copper Mine photo credit: Reidsguide.com

By Catherine Mortensen

At the height of the Great Depression, my great-grandfather and his two sons left their tiny Northern New Mexico village in search of economic opportunity.

All three men found work at the massive open pit Bingham Copper Mine just west of Salt Lake City. Today it is known as the Kennecott Copper Mine. While the work was hard, for men of that era, it was a source of great pride to have what they called “a steady job.” Eventually the oldest son, my grandfather Jose Medardo Martinez, left the mines to work as a welder. For the next thirty years he earned union wages and provided a stable middle-class life for his family.

His son (my father) served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a colonel. I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Harvard University where I earned a master’s degree and later worked on Capitol Hill. I believe that my family’s upward mobility is the direct result of my great-grandfather’s decision to leave his village and work in the mines.

And it is not just my family that has benefited from the development of our country’s abundant natural resources. Mining is a part of every American success story. The United States is blessed with the resources and talent to be energy independent, meaning we do not have to rely on other countries for our oil, gas, coal, or critical minerals. And we aren’t. Under President Trump’s pro-energy policies, for the first time in 60 years, America is energy independent.

But experts in the field say if we are not vigilant, we could lose that advantage to countries like China and Russia who are constantly attempting to deny us access to our resources. Geologist Dr. Ned Mamula has over 30 years of experience in the fields of energy and mineral exploration, production, and resource policy on federal lands. He is the author of the book, “Groundbreaking, America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence” which explores the “all-too-real consequences of misguided resource management policy decisions and environmental alarmism.”

Mamula said misguided policies have allowed Chinese and Russian state-operated enterprises, SOEs, to “partially lock-up” some of our most important natural resources. An SOE operates as a private company, but is in fact, a state-owned asset, controlled run by its the host government.

“We have foreign companies that are fronts for their governments,” explained Mamula. “They gain access to energy and mineral leases on U.S. federal lands and –which essentially provides them with “ownership” of key American resources.” He said he is not surprised that a dubious Chinese investment firm may be meddling in the decision process for Alaska’s Pebble Mine, because Chinese investors they have already gained partial control of other U.S. mineral deposits such as the giant Mountain Pass rare earth mine in southern California. Mamula says Russian SOEs have also acquired ownership of uranium producing leases to uranium mines in parts of the Western U.S.

China and Russia are gaining access to our rare earth and uranium mineral resources, respectively, by receiving CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.) approval and then taking advantage of the American laws to tie up, in this case, uranium mine leases with no intention to mine them. The SOEs sit on them and ensure no one else can gain access to the resources.

With the American uranium mining industry already on life support, we could one day become totally dependent on these foreign governments for our entire nuclear energy output.

If Congress doesn’t take action to stop these trends, Mamula predicts we’ll face economic pain because of “shortages” of critical minerals which we have in abundance in our country.

“People won’t be able to get a cell phone, or they will be standing in a long line wrapped around an Apple store,” explained Mamula. “That might sound far-fetched, people will laugh – but scenarios like this that involve “shortages” of critical minerals could be are right around the corner.”

Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government isn’t laughing.

“I remember the Arab oil embargo in the seventies,” he said. “It was a nightmare. People would sit in their car for an hour, sometime two, to get gas, and even then, there was a limit.”

Manning said Chinese meddling in our natural resources threatens our energy independence.

“The U.S. government should move forward to approve Pebble Mine as an important first step in restoring our ability to end our dependency upon a Beijing regime which is engaged in war tactics against us.”

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