October 1, 2020 – Statement of Earthworks Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Mintzes:
“We’ve seen proclamations from President Trump on so-called critical minerals before. This one continues this administration’s consistent attempts to weaken public input and federal oversight over mining.
“What’s different now is the world’s interest in the equitable and just treatment of mining impacted communities. Mining companies now realize they must earn a social license to operate. Global backlash at Rio Tinto for destroying 46,000 year old indigenous sites forced the resignation of their CEO. Today’s Executive Order speeds the transfer of public lands, sacred to the San Carlos Apache, to Rio Tinto.
“The President is right that we need to improve our minerals policy which still lingers from an 1872 law intended for white colonization. But that doesn’t mean loosening oversight, it means reforming this law to help redress some of the inequities still evident in our power structures today, where governments permit destruction of indigenous sacred sites. Reform will also improve supply chain security in the materials needed for the clean, just, and equitable energy transition. We need 1872 Mining Law reform such as that proposed by Messrs. Grijalva and Udall.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- Executives to Step Down After Rio Tinto Destroys Sacred Australian Sites, New York Times, Sep 11, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/11/business/rio-tinto-indigenous-sites.html
- Attractiveness of the United States for Mineral Investment: https://www.earthworks.org/publications/attractiveness_of_the_united_states_for_mineral_investment/
- Most recent Fraser Institute Annual Survey of global mining company executive opinions re jurisdictions’ relative mining investment attractiveness (U.S. public lands states occupy four of the top ten slots). The Survey also provides an independent “Policy Perception Index: A report card to governments on the attractiveness of their mining policies” . U.S. public lands states also occupy four of the top ten slots.
Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.