ICYMI: Outside Support for Barrasso’s Mining Schools Act

September 25, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, U.S. Senator John Barrasso’s (R-WY), the Mining Schools Act of 2023 passed out of the ENR Committee by a voice vote last week. Ranking member Barrasso, joined by chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV), introduced this bill in March to increase and improve opportunities for university and college mining and geological programs to prepare students to meet America’s future energy needs.

The Mining Schools Act of 2023 has received support from a broad range of outside stakeholders. These statements of support are included below.

“A strong mining industry is critical to keeping a strong America. The Mining Schools Act of 2023 will strengthen and revitalize university level mining programs and help prepare the next generation of our mining workforce to meet tomorrow’s needs and challenges. The Wyoming Mining Association thanks the Committee for its efforts and looks forward to Senate passage of this important legislation," said Travis Deti the Executive Director of the Wyoming Mining Association.

“BPC Action commends Sens. Manchin and Barrasso on the Mining Schools Act. America’s national and energy security requires development of a reliable and secure mineral supply chain.  A domestic workforce for mining and mineral processing is a vital component to the build out of a U.S. critical mineral industry.  The Mining Schools Act is an important step to ensuring we have the skilled workforce to meet the growing demands for critical minerals,” said Michele Stockwell, President, Bipartisan Policy Center Action.

The Association of American State Geologists (AASG) is pleased to see Congress addressing the very real need for a well-educated, trained, and prepared geoscience workforce," said Association of American State Geologists President John Metesh. “S.912 seeks to increase the capabilities of universities to recruit and support students in pursuit of careers in geology, engineering, and energy development. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 27% of the existing geoscience workforce will be retiring by 2029 and we will need 130,000 fully trained and ready to go new workers ready to fill that gap. This Bill can help universities meet that goal"

AASG President-Elect Jessica Moore added, "S.912 takes a real first step at addressing the need for the US to create a more geoscience-aware workforce to meet the growing demands within our country and improve our global competitiveness in energy and mineral needs."

“The U.S. must ready the next generation of mining engineers, metallurgists, and geoscientists to develop the secure, transparent, and high-quality critical minerals supply chain that will underpin our economic and national security,” said Danielle Woodring, Director of Legislative Affairs for SAFE’s Center for Critical Minerals Strategy. “Many of SAFE’s industry, academic, and government partners identify workforce shortages as one of the biggest obstacles to this objective, and current graduation rates in mining and mineral engineering will not replace the 200,000 workers that will retire from domestic mining by 2029. To bridge this gap and build a new skilled geoscience workforce, we strongly endorse the Mining Schools Act of 2023.”

"On behalf of the 450 members of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), we share our strong support for S. 912, the Mining Schools Act of 2023. The work of the aggregates industry is essential to building American infrastructure. Our nation’s mining and engineering schools are crucial to the future of our industry.   This legislation promises to equip schools with the vital resources they need, fostering innovation and broadening opportunities in mining education. We believe that this legislation will not only address the imminent workforce shortage but also amplify the potential for prospective students in the mining realm. Your commendable initiative in promoting this bipartisan bill holds the promise of bolstering our industry and enhancing America’s infrastructure,” said Michele Stanley, Vice President for Government and Regulatory Affairs.

“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,” said the Essential Minerals Association.

"Modern mining depends on a 21st-century workforce that drives innovation, continues to prioritize health and safety while working to reduce environmental risk, and supports the communities where we live and work. To do this, we must recruit, educate, train, and develop tomorrow's workforce today, giving the tools they will need to meet the challenge of developing the secure domestic supply chain that will deliver economic and national security for future generations. We applaud Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso for their leadership in supporting the nation's mining workforce and for advancing this legislation to ensure our nation's miners continue to be the best in the world,” said The National Mining Association.

“Our members are struggling to fill vacancies with qualified professionals during a time when the industry is seeing a skyrocketing demand for minerals and a need to secure our domestic supply chains,” said Executive Director, Mark Compton. “The Mining Schools Act is an important tool to help colleges and universities prepare more students for a rewarding career in the mining industry, where young professionals can make a difference right away and earn a salary that is typically double the average pay in most areas. We thank Senators Manchin and Barrasso for their leadership on this issue and urge timely passage of this important legislation by the full Senate,” said the American Exploration and Mining Association.

“The American Critical Minerals Association applauds Chairman Manchin, Ranking Member Barrasso and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for passing the Mining Schools Act of 2023.  Whether for batteries, defense applications, energy and other manufacturing needs,  our nation is increasingly aware of the need for a critical minerals supply chain that is secure, sustainable and free from the geopolitical agenda of foreign nations that do not share our values nor interests.  As U.S. industry rises to meet this challenge, it is imperative that we invest in growing and developing our workforce to support these efforts.  The Mining Schools Act of 2023 will revitalize mining programs at our nation’s universities and help ensure the next generation of American workers stand ready to cement our nation as a leader in the critical minerals economy,” said the American Critical Minerals Association.

“The passage of the Mining Schools Act of 2023 (S. 912) out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is an important step in improving America’s mineral future and is a win-win for our national security, our economy, our energy future, and the environment. By providing funds to U.S. mining schools to train future mining professionals, the U.S. will be in a better position to produce more of the minerals we need from domestic mines. S. 912 will reduce our dangerous mineral dependency on China and other adversarial countries where mines are operated with little regard to the environment or worker health and safety, and create high-paying jobs at domestic mines, which are the cleanest and safest mines in the world,” said Dave Kanagy, Executive Director and CEO, Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration.

“The Women’s Mining Coalition applauds the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for passing the Mining Schools Act of 2023 (S. 912) out of committee, and thanks Senators Barrasso and Manchin for their vision and leadership in introducing this bill. Providing funds to America’s mining schools is an important investment in increasing domestic mining, strengthening our mineral supply chains, and reducing our reliance on China and other adversarial countries for the minerals we need for our national defense, economic strength, and energy security. S. 912 will help diminish China’s current global hegemony over mining, mineral processing, and mining education by increasing the ranks of American students studying to become tomorrow’s mining industry leaders,” said Debra Struhsacker, Co-Founder and Director, Women’s Mining Coalition.

The Mining Schools Act of 2023 would:

  1. Establish a grant program for mining schools to receive funds in order to recruit students and carry out studies, research projects, or demonstration projects related to the production of minerals; and
  2. Establish the Mining Professional Development Advisory Board to evaluate applications and recommend recipients to the Secretary of Energy, as well as conduct oversight to ensure that grant funds are appropriately used.

Background Information:

  1. On March 22, 2023, Senators Barrasso and Manchin introduced S.912, the Mining Schools Act of 2023.
  2. On July 12, 2023, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing on S.912, the Mining Schools Act of 2023.
  3. On December 1, 2022, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on S. 3915, the Mining Schools Act of 2022.
  4. On March 24, 2022, Senators Barrasso and Manchin introduced S. 3915, the Mining Schools Act of 2022.

Read the text of the Mining Schools Act of 2023 here.