“Mining Makes Your Life Possible”

Hard to find enough nice things to say about this op-ed, which was published in The Vancouver Sun this week.

So, you’re parking both the family car and the transit pass, biking to work instead and feeling a tad righteous about helping British Columbia wean itself from its dirty addiction to the mining industry and the minerals it extracts.

Say thanks to a coal miner for the privilege. And don’t forget the hardrock miner. Not to mention the smelter crew and the roughneck yanking pipe on some frigid drill rig.

Oh, and say thanks to the trucker hauling canisters of molybdenum, titanium or tungsten concentrate or the geologist staking gold, silver or rare earths deposits.

Without them and the industries that employ them, you’d be walking, not biking.

Bicycles, unless you ride one you made yourself from bamboo, lashings of hemp and dried banana peels, is entirely manufactured from materials obtained by mining — steel processed by burning metallurgical coal, perhaps lightened by adding specialized metals like titanium; plastic and synthetic rubber obtained from petroleum products.

Read the entire piece here.

I don’t have much to add other than to point out that across the world environmental groups (both local and national) as well as anti-mining groups have wreaked havoc on the mining industry, which is why you see statistics showing that the United States is one of the countries where permitting a mine takes a very long time. I can understand environmentalists who want mining to be done safely or to minimize the environmental impact, but as far as I can tell, a number of these groups just don’t want mining projects at all. Where do they think the materials to create solar panels and windmills come from? They don’t grow on trees.

Another excerpt:

And if you get around to sending me a snarky email regarding my insensitivity to the environmental benefits of biking to work by drawing attention to this — pardon the pun — irony, you’ll be using mined minerals to deliver the message.

Computer keyboard, petroleum-derived plastics; circuitry, rare earths and special metals; screws, frames and fasteners, steel, aluminum and other metals; flat screen display, metals and plastics; battery, metals and plastics; case, metals and plastics.

Want a more detailed list?

Your computer, tablet or smartphone contains iron, titanium, aluminum, copper, zinc, nickel, gold, silver, lithium, magnesium, mercury, yttrium, palladium, tin, cadmium, indium, lead, samarium, tantalum and, if you are still running an optical drive, gadolinium and dysprosium. The plastics are heat resistant with melting points above the boiling temperature for water and are comprised of acrylonitrile, butadiene, styrene and carbon.

The total greenhouse gas emissions associated with a MacBook: About 460 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

In fact, there’s even a calculation for the carbon footprint of an email. A long and tiresome one amounts to about 50 grams of C02, which doesn’t seem like much until you total them, and then the Internet turns out to have a carbon footprint of around 300 million tonnes a year. So keep it short.

Most of the benefits of mining remain unseen even to those who benefit tremendously from them.



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