US miners and energy firms are being discouraged from domestic manufacturing by a tough regulatory environment, according to the ceo of the world’s biggest lead producer.

Doe Run ceo Jerry Pyatt told the US House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Energy & Mineral Resources that this is pushing the USA down a dangerous path, impeding innovation and prohibiting the further development of the country’s national resources.

“Our nation must take a responsible and reasonable approach towards regulating the industry [if we are] to continue propelling forward on a sustainable path,” he said.

Recent Environmental Protection Agency regulations resulted in the closure of Doe Run’s Herculaneum smelter, the last primary lead smelter in the USA, leaving the country reliant on imports for primary lead.

“We [have] invested tens of millions of dollars in revolutionary lead electrowinning technology with near-zero emissions. This technology could return the [USA to being] a producer of primary lead metal, a metal we use to start our cars, provide storage capacity for renewable energy, protect the nation’s military, and support innovations in healthcare,” he said.

“However, given the present, unpredictable regulatory environment, we have [shelved our plans] to advance this technology here in the USA. We believe this is just one example of how today’s US regulatory policy – often advanced without the benefit of the best science – has put the country on an unsustainable path, dependent on foreign nations for jobs, goods and resources,” Pyatt added.

The hearing is being conducted in response to requests from the Interstate Mining Compact Commission and the National Mining Association to reinforce the vital role that critical minerals and metals play in US manufacturing, and the need to ensure the continued domestic production of these minerals.

Mining has an estimated $232 billion direct and indirect economic impact on the US balance sheet.

Pyatt was invited to participate by Missouri congressman Jason Smith.

"Our hope is that the perspectives shared during this hearing will encourage the Senate to approve HR761, the National Strategic & Critical Minerals Production Act, which would allow the USA to more efficiently develop its strategic and critical minerals so we can remain competitive in the global marketplace, and avoid over-dependence on foreign nations for essential metals," Smith said. 

Andrea Hotter

Twitter: @andreahotter