Senate Hears from Wyoming Bentonite Producer on Mining Law

October 5, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), welcomed Mr. David Brown,
president and CEO of Wyo-Ben, Inc., to the committee. Brown testified before the committee at a hearing to examine and consider updates to the Mining Law of 1872. 

Click here to watch Brown’s testimony.

In his written testimony, Brown highlighted the exceptional quality of  the Sodium Bentonite found in Wyoming. “While bentonite is found in many other parts of the world, the bentonite found in Wyoming and bordering states is exceptional in its quality characteristics. So much so that it is known as ‘Wyoming Bentonite’ and is the benchmark for bentonite quality around the world. Wyoming Bentonite is used as a base material to create hundreds of different products that are sold worldwide,” wrote Brown

Brown discussed the need to access minerals on federal lands. “It's important for me to note that around 90 percent of the bentonite we use for our products is obtained from mining claims on federal lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management…As a small company that operates in an industry segment with inherently low profit margins, and that relies heavily on mineral resources from federal lands, our ability to compete in the domestic and international marketplace is dependent on our ability to access and economically mine these resources.” said Brown.

Brown also outlined the complexity of mining law and the thoughtful discussion it requires to make changes. “The ‘one size fits all’ approach to mining law reform put forth in the Hardrock Mining Section will significantly affect our company’s ability to remain competitive and, perhaps, our viability to continue to operate and offer good paying, high quality employment. Further, the negative impact of the proposed Mining Law changes on the nations supply chain as well as on our local communities would be severe. For all these reasons, I respectfully request the Committee to recommend to the full Senate that the Hardrock Mining Section be removed from the final Reconciliation Bill before it is sent to the President. I appreciate this committee taking the first step toward considering Mining Law reforms through regular order with this hearing and look forward to continuing to engage with you on this important issue,” stated Brown.

For more information on Brown’s testimony and the hearing, click here.