Monday, January 12, 2009

Don't eliminate Mines & Mineral Resources

Arizona legislators are reportedly considering a proposal by the Goldwater Institute to eliminate the Arizona Dept. of Mines and Mineral Resources, in expectation of saving $500,000. That's a bad idea.

The Goldwater folks say the mining industry can take care of itself. But that's not the point. ADMMR works with the Arizona Corporation Commission to provide them with solid engineering and economic evaluations on the issuance and sale of mining securities. Selling phony mining stock has been a favorite of scammers and con artists for years. Eliminate ADMMR and the ACC will just have to hire that expertise elsewhere.

ADMMR's customers are also other state and federal agencies, who need reliable information about mining projects across the state to understand the economic, planning, and environmental impacts that need to be dealt with.

Thirdly, it's not the giant multinational mining companies that pour through ADMMR's vast archives of maps and reports and draw on their expertise. It's the small and independent exploration companies who don't have the private libraries and files like the big guys. ADMMR helps level the playing field, makes sure everyone has access to the data, and keeps the cost of doing business in Arizona low by providing services open to all, instead of everyone having to duplicate them over and over again.

And lastly, the postulated savings seem unrealistic. The museum would be transferred to the Historical Society to run. But most of ADMMR's budget goes to pay the rent on the huge museum building. Eliminating all the staff salary money with the expectation the museum will somehow run itself is a nice soundbite, but unrealistic fiscal policy.

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