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As a mining engineering student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and avid outdoorswoman raised in Juneau, I am a protector of the environment. Along with my peers I represent the future of mining and environmental protection in Alaska. Unfortunately the most vocal environmentalists lately seem to be the irrational and undereducated few like Leimomi Matunding (March 7 letters to the editor). Leimomi says, "We have had mining in Alaska. Now we know better." This comment reiterates the fact that many people know very little about the mining industry. Have we forgotten the reason our Alaska pioneers came to this great state in the first place? It had something to do with gold.
The uses of minerals are endless. Building materials like insulation, fireproof fabrics, and roofing materials could not be possible without mining. Anything made from aluminum, steel, or any other alloy is a product of mining. Even the materials that make up concrete and other road construction materials come from quarries or mines, not to mention oil wells. In Juneau we are lucky to have a wonderful source of hydroelectricity, but more than half of the electricity produced in the United States every year comes from coal-fired power plants.
It's clear we need minerals to maintain our way of life. Every person living on this planet will consume minerals in their lifetime. Can Alaska afford to solely import all of the minerals and energy resources to keep our residents alive while we are sitting on some of the richest mineral reserves in the world? Can the tourism industry alone support our state's economy enough to fulfill the idealistic view of an undisturbed environment? Why not make the most of both of our great resources, the wonderful mineral reserves and the beauty which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors per year?
A company cannot open a mine in the state of Alaska without adequate money set aside for the reclamation of the land. If the mining company cannot successfully complete the full reclamation of the mine site after mining is completed, this bond money will be used to hire someone else to do it.
In closing, I would like to remind all the readers who are still with me, that which cannot be grown has to be mined. For the sake of our economy, let's do it locally and not have to rely on importing.