U.S. Senator Manchin promises to block mining royalty plan

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October 14 (Businesshala) – US Senator Joe Manchin has pledged to prevent proposed royalties for minerals extracted on federal lands from proceeding in the US Senate’s version of a hotly debated reconciliation package, a Senate staffer said on Thursday.

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Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senator’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, promised U.S. Senator Katherine Cortez Masto, a Nevada Democrat, that the royalty proposal would not be included in the Senate’s final reconciliation language, according to Cortez Masto’s office.

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Munchkin’s office declined to comment.

The pledge to block the royalty proposal in committee and the full Senate is the latest example of Munchkin’s new role as a legislative powerbroker in an equally divided chamber.

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Last month, the US House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee added language to a proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending measure to set aside 8% gross royalties on existing mines and 4% on new mines. Proponents estimate that the measure, which would also set a 7-cent fee for every ton of rock, would raise about $2 billion over 10 years.

It was designed as one of the most significant changes to the law governing American mining since 1872, which did not set royalties to encourage the development of the western United States.

Mining companies support only minor changes to the law, but environmental groups have long urged industry to charge fees for extracting minerals on taxpayer-owned land.

Nevada produces more gold and silver than any other state and has lithium projects under development by Lithium America Corp., Ionair Ltd. and others. Cortez Masto, who is up for re-election in 2022, has been one of the few Democrats to support the mining industry’s position.

Tensions are rising in the United States over how best to procure the minerals needed to produce renewable energy technologies. President Joe Biden has yet to take a public stance on the issue, although privately he has indicated plans to rely on allies for the metals needed in electric vehicles, Businesshala reported here earlier this year.

Reporting by Ernest Scheider in Houston; Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio

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