|Updated: 1 Nov, 2004|
Mining is, and will remain a viable part of the economy for many years. One main reason for this conclusion is, the raw materials necessary for manufacturing almost everything utilized in the consumer world requires raw materials that come from the earth. Mining and Mineral Processing extracts these materials, and refines them into usable material for the manufacturing process. It will be many years before the technology to recycle elemental compounds from the manufactured items is feasible (cost effective), or even possible. Currently, aluminum, iron, paper, silicon and a small number of other compounds and elements are recyclable, and, sometimes, at a much higher cost than producing them from raw materials. So, unless this consumer oriented society, and all of the developing nations in the world, suddenly stop using products we are familiar with today, the demand for raw materials to produce these products in the future will grow with the increased demand for more and newer products. Let's face it, an automobile does not materialize without iron from the mine, and numerous industrial minerals utilized in the components of plastics and some polymers, clays, limestone, calcite, rare earth's for the headlights, etc..
The challenge for those in the mining industry will be to meet those demands, in a world with an ever increasing population that wants to push mining further and further away. Society has been given the idea that mining, and industry in general, is bad, it "Pollutes" their environment. Nowhere is this more clear than in California. Mining (Gold) is the reason this state exists. However, the radical left environmental movements in the USA have all but exterminated open pit and surface gold mining in California. There are plenty of mineable reserves tucked away in the mountains and desserts, but they are now officially off limits to the most common open pit and heap leach method of mining gold. It is still possible to mine gold by underground methods, but this method requires a rich vein, and most of those left are small yielding deposits, with total reserves of only a few hundred thousand ounces. To get a permit to mine those that are not off limits requires a lot of expertise, and the patience of a saint, but it is still possible for underground operations, but virtually impossible or infeasible for surface or pit operations.
Mining Companies of old did tend to "selfishly utilize" the land, removing the metals or minerals, with little if any regard to what was left. This was the way things were done, they operated in accordance with existing laws at the time, and no one knew (or cared to learn) any better. However, the mark of an intelligent species, is the ability to learn, and not to repeat mistakes of the past. My grandfather was often referred to as one of those "Robber Barons", since he owned and operated coal mines in West Virginia. Articles were written about how the men that worked in those mines were taken advantage of and worked for a pittance. Why then were there several hundred men outside of the employment office waiting for a job every day of the week? Sure conditions were very harsh, compared to today, but the technology and the idea of industrialization was new then and they were just following what was the rule of the day. We have come a long way since the late 1800's and the world is truly a different place today than it was then. Now, we have the knowledge and the technology to prevent breathing harmful quantities of dust, to predict if a refuse area is stable, and if rain will cause harmful metals to leach out into the ground and water table, and to construct facilities to remove the harmful material. We can control the effects of our actions like never before, and in the future, we will be able to do this even more so.
So why is the public so united against mining? My theory is, that from kindergarten, the children are brainwashed with the ideas that industry pollutes the environment, radical environmental reactionary ideas are promulgated in schools and the liberal media by those so called environmental groups that solicit large sums of money from an uninformed public. I have personally never met an environmentalist that was half as qualified as myself and certainly possessed not a fraction of the qualifications of some of my colleagues in the mining industry, but they are calling the shots in the political arena.
Is our main goal as human beings to preserve every species on the planet? Absolutely Not. If every species on the planet were still living, we would not even exist. Can you imagine our primitive forefathers surviving, surrounded by T-Rexes and some of the other very large predatory creatures that once roamed this planet? I can't. Species have been coming and going for ever, and will continue to do so. It is the Natural progression of life's arena. What we need to do is insure that mankind is not one of those species going. The environmentalists main plan is to eliminate the human species, or at least they are making an attempt to do so by their complete disregard for us, deferring to their furry, feathered and scaled friends, instead.
I once met a very prominent attorney, and something he said made much sense to me. With regards to a legal presentation in court, I sarcastically quipped "If you are right, you will surely win", and he replied "It is not about right or wrong, it is about who puts on the best, most convincing presentation, they will win"." He was right, and mining, and industry has not been "putting on the most convincing presentation", unfortunately.
Now for the bad news, the mining industry of the future will not be the mining industry of 20 years ago, 10 years ago or perhaps even today. I regularly conduct business with the global mining community, and in the past 5 years there have been 20 mines opening in countries outside of the USA for every mine opening inside of the USA. Granted, many of these countries are friendly countries, and welcome our investment and the investment of other foreign companies engaged in industry. If current trends continue, the USA will run the risk of being held hostage to potential hostile countries for everything required for the massive volumes of products we annually consume, even our military industrial complex will be in jeopardy, endangering the survival of the US as a world power, and perhaps the last bastion of free people anywhere.
Not a pretty picture, what can we do to change this?
Present the facts, in an unbiased way, showing that virtually everything that does not come from a plant, must have mined materials in order to exist. Even gasoline, that is refined from crude oil, must have a large number of minerals to pump it from the ground, transport it to the refinery, refine it and then transport and store it in a local service station where it is pumped to individual automobiles. This process requires hundreds of minerals, all of which are mined. No mention of this is ever made by the media or schools, since it is not approved by the radical environmental movements, such as Earth First, Natural Resource Defense Fund, the nature conservancy, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, and a host of other poorly informed, Eco Terrorists, bent on destroying all industrial activities, and sending the US Taxpayer the bill, to support their radical left winged philosophy.
These "environmental" organizations accomplish many of their dubious and nefarious deeds by filing numerous lawsuits, threatening governmental and business organizations every time they are involved in trying to produce a better way of life, by utilizing the resources on this planet, for the betterment of humanity and provide the goods necessary for our high quality of life that we currently enjoy. What is needed is a Pro Business Organization (group of attorneys) dedicated to dismantling these ill informed, malicious eco terrorist attorneys in the courts that they have used to their benefit for all to many years. Industries' side is rarely presented, or rarely presented well enough to overcome the onslaught from the eco terrorist attorneys that flood the courts with malformed lawsuits, aimed at furthering their poorly formed philosophies of how we should live in "their" world.
I've got news for them, it is "MY" world, too, and I would hope that other rational, informed people would consider it "THEIR" world, also, and confront these liberal, eco-terrorist attorneys when they ply their trade to legislate business, and our economy into oblivion. Perhaps, we could make the statement that humans are the most important life form on this planet, and the planet is for our use, and we need to wisely use it to sustain and improve our daily lives and build a foundation where the future will be bright for those who inherit it. The future will come, whether we are adequately prepared or not, and history has shown that being prepared is much better than risking everything to chance (or eco-terrorist attorneys). We can go back to living in caves (what the Eco Terrorists would prefer), or we can forge ahead, and build better lives, advance science and industry, using the resources of the planet to do so, and meet the unknown challenges of the future prepared for whatever may lie around the next decade. The choice is ours to make, and we will be responsible for the effects of our choices, by their effects on our generation and the generations yet to come.
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