Consideration of the Need for Minerals Mobilization Planning Within the Department of the Interior

Gao ID: EMD-81-89 June 8, 1981

The Department of the Interior is responsible for mobilizing the Nation's minerals industry in a national emergency. Interior is, in general, responsible for emergency preparedness plans and programs for all nonfuel minerals. It has the responsibility for mines, concentrating plants, and refineries, and for the ores, concentrates, and other materials treated in such facilities.

Except for some very broad proposals on the type of actions that might be taken, there are no plans to meet this responsibility and deal with specific problem areas. There are just contingency organizations, draft legislation, and mechanisms to allocate available supplies. Potential problem areas have not been identified. It is difficult to say how much planning is needed or whether the additional costs that might be involved are justified. Government planners need to know what problems to expect, what leadtimes might be encountered, and how they might be overcome. Planners need to know: (1) which deposits can be developed and which mines reopened; (2) if adequate skilled labor can be obtained; (3) if transportation facilities are adequate; (4) if technologies are available or if they must be developed; (5) if adequate amounts of water and energy can be obtained; and (6) if stand-by equipment and facilities must be acquired in advance. Because there are no specific plans, problems will be handled as they arise. Unless potential problems and required actions are examined there is little reason to be assured that these problems can be overcome.

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