Ranking Members Grijalva, Stansbury, Huffman Call on Chair Westerman to Investigate Foreign Mining Companies’ Influence on Domestic Policy

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), and Water, Wildlife, and Fisheries Subcommittee Ranking Member Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) urging him to investigate foreign influence of U.S. laws and policies through foreign owned mining companies.

In their letter, the lawmakers point out the risk that foreign-controlled mining companies pose to federal policymaking:

“Mining companies with foreign funding, significant amounts of foreign shareholders, and/or foreign parent companies are lobbying to undermine U.S. law and policy that protects our environment, economy, and national security. Specifically, these companies are exploiting loopholes in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) that allow them to evade serious scrutiny of their work on behalf of foreign principals.”

The letter also highlights several examples of mining companies with significant foreign ties that have not registered under FARA but have actively lobbied to influence domestic mining law or policy. The examples include:

  • Twin Metals: A wholly owned subsidiary of Chilean company Antofogasta that has proposed high-risk sulfide-ore copper mining in the Boundary Waters watershed.
  • Rio Tinto: A company whose largest shareholder is a Chinese-state-owned enterprise and is joint owner of a proposed copper mining operation in the sacred Oak Flat area. Rio Tinto is responsible for numerous environmental and human rights violations across the globe.
  • BHP Group: An Australian company and the other joint owner of the proposed mining operation in the Oak Flat area. BHP was responsible for a major mining disaster that killed 19 people in 2015.
  • Barrick Gold: A Canadian company accused of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, that jointly operates Nevada Gold Mines.

The letter also highlights the lobbying activities of trade groups, like the National Mining Association, some of which have major foreign ties.

READ the full letter to Chair Westerman.

Additional Background

Last week, the House passed H.R. 2925 (Amodei; R-Nev.), which would double down on the flaws of the severely outdated Mining Law of 1872 to make it even easier for foreign adversaries or other bad actors to lock up our public lands with mining claims, extract minerals without paying a single cent in royalties, and distribute those minerals however they wish on the global market.

In the week prior, H.R. 2925 suffered a procedural setback on the House floor when several Republicans broke ranks and voted with Democrats on a motion to recommit the bill back to the Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) introduced the motion with the intention to amend H.R. 2925 by banning foreign adversaries or entities with documented human rights or environmental violations from making mining claims on U.S. public lands.

Ranking Member Grijalva then sent a letter to Chair Bruce Westerman (D-Ark.) opposing any attempts to bypass the Committee’s reconsideration of H.R. 2925, but that request was denied, and the bill returned to the House floor. Both Republicans and Democrats then proposed amendments to H.R. 2925 that would ban foreign adversaries from making mining claims on U.S. public lands, but Republican leadership rejected all of them.

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