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September 21, 2023

Essential Minerals Industry Leads Coalition of Support for the Mining Schools Act of 2023

Written By: Jenny Martin
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Arlington, Va., Sept. 21, 2023 – The Essential Minerals Association is leading a coalition of 18 universities and 28 associations in voicing support for the Mining Schools Act of 2023, which is scheduled for a markup in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today. The legislation will be critical for supporting the next generation of talent for the minerals industry as it works to aid in the transition to green energy and continue to provide the minerals that are essential to Americans’ daily lives.

“Right now, the minerals and mining industry is facing a lack of college graduates sufficiently skilled in geological and engineering disciplines impacts our ability to provide the minerals that are vital to every aspect of our lives – and even cause us to be reliant on foreign sources for these materials,” said Chris Greissing, president of the Essential Minerals Association. “We applaud Senators Joe Manchin and John Barrasso for their leadership in giving this issue the attention it deserves. The funding provided in the Mining Schools Act would strengthen our domestic schools that offer degree programs that are vital to upstream mineral development and production, as well as recruit students that represent the next generation of the industry.”

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence projects that the world will need to open more than 380 new mines for graphite, lithium, nickel and cobalt alone, in order to meet demand by the year 2035. However, without skilled talent, the industry’s ability to produce the necessary quantity of these minerals efficiently, safely, and sustainably is in jeopardy. In fact, nearly three quarters of industry executives said this talent shortage is holding them back from discovering and delivering on production targets and strategic objectives, according to a survey by global consultancy McKinsey & Company. This is largely due to an aging workforce entering retirement and a dearth of high school graduates entering the relevant post-secondary degree programs.

Even if more students were to pursue such degrees, the United States currently lacks the capacity to train them. Forty years ago, 25 American universities maintained accredited mining and mineral development programs. Today, only 14 exist. According to the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, the number of graduates has decreased by 43 percent since 2015 alone. The number of geological engineering programs has dwindled to only 13, and metallurgical engineering stands at just 8.

The Mining Schools Act helps to bridge this gap by revitalizing university-level mining programs by establishing a grant program for mining schools in order to recruit students and carry out studies, research projects, and demonstration projects related to the production of minerals.

The Essential Minerals Association applauds the markup of this bill in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and urges full support in the Senate and House.

The Essential Minerals Association (EMA) is the representative voice for companies that extract and process a vital and beneficial group of raw materials and minerals, which are the essential ingredients for many of the products used in everyday life. Formerly, the Industrial Minerals Association – North America, EMA ensures that the voices of its member companies and the socio-economic benefits they provide – from mining to end-use products – are heard by government leaders as well as the general public. Visit essentialminerals.org to learn more.

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