Wyo delegates support lowered soda ash royalty rate

WYOMING – Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the royalty rate for soda ash will be lowered from 6% to 2%. The Department of the Interior announced on Dec. 22, that the royalty rate would be set at 2% for ten years. Wyoming delegates, U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, and Representative Liz Cheney, all support this decision. High concentrations of the mineral are found in Wyoming.

“Wyoming is home to the largest deposit of trona in the world and the soda ash it creates is a critical component in products we use every day. Senators Enzi, Barrasso, and I have been working to secure a reduction in the industry-wide soda ash royalty rate as an essential step to ensuring Wyoming producers remain competitive in the global market against foreign competitors like China. This long-awaited royalty rate reduction will empower soda ash producers across our state to expand operations and create much-needed job opportunities and economic growth as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cheney said.

According to the U.S Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management website, “Implementation of the royalty rate reduction will counter the expanded global market influences of Chinese and Turkish production, encourage expanded investment and job creation by U.S Industry, promote U.S. mineral development, and enhance national security.”

Natural soda ash, also known as sodium carbonate, is a raw material used to manufacture glass, detergents, and other industrial goods. Natural soda ash is produced from trona, a mineral found in high concentrations on federal land, primarily in California and Wyoming.

“Soda ash may not be a household name, but it is Wyoming’s top export and American producers have been struggling against unfair trade practices from other countries like China,” Enzi said. “This decision to reduce the royalty rate will allow this critical Wyoming industry to remain competitive.”

The United States exports almost 60 percent of its natural soda ash. China has sought to capture the global market share from U.S. soda ash producers through unfair trade practices. China’s value-added tax rebate for its own synthetic soda ash producers has artificially driven down prices in the global marketplace.

In August 2020, the Bureau of Land Management released its final rule to streamline the royalty rate reduction process for non-energy solid leasable minerals, including soda ash. The rule is estimated to save up to $5 million in regulatory costs over the next decade, helping the U.S. compete globally and supporting American jobs.

“Today’s long-awaited action will give Wyoming soda ash producers the certainty we need to stay competitive in the global market,” Barrasso said. “American soda ash supports thousands of jobs across the country in a variety of sectors, including mineral production, cleaning supplies, glass and manufacturing. For too long, American producers have had to battle unfair foreign trade practices of China and other countries. Lowering the royalty rate will level the playing field against China and preserve these high-paying jobs in Wyoming.”

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