Rare earth mining is crucial to modern life providing critical minerals used for a wide array of products from iPhones to computers. But the U.S. currently imports over 96 percent of its rare earth minerals from other countries – some of which are not very friendly. So what is the problem? Sadly, domestic production is hindered by government permitting which can take an average of seven years to process – and these delays have killed important mining projects from California to Wyoming. Thus, despite a vast underground store of raw materials, red tape makes America one of the least desirable countries in which to operate, creating obstacles most mining companies simply don’t dig.