An analysis of the politics affecting hardrock mining in the New York Times suggests that western lawmakers and the Republican-controlled House will prevent changes to the hardrock mining laws from being considered by Congress this session. [right, Morenci copper mine, AZ. My photo, 2008]
Mining opponents want to do away with patenting of claims, give recreation higher priority over mining and impose royalties on production. The President's budget proposal calls for royalties, saying "Just as the coal industry is held responsible for the actions of its predecessors, the Administration proposes to hold the hardrock mining industry responsible for abandoned hardrock mines."
Mining proponents argue that U.S. mining has declined and the country is increasingly reliant on imported minerals, such as rare earths.