Mining the source of modern life

Posted: Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I am writing in response to Mr. Velazquez' letter of Wednesday, March 26, in which he proclaims "Stop the Mines." It is unfortunate that everyone does not learn in school where "stuff" comes from. Milk does not come from a jug, and electricity does not come from a wall socket. Perhaps, because these things are not known as well as they should be, we should "Stop the schools?"

Every person born and raised in the United States will need 3.7 million pounds of minerals and energy fuels in his or her lifetime. Just some of the minerals mined in Alaska that they would need include 1,400 pounds of copper, 773 pounds of zinc, 911 pounds of lead, 578,056 pounds of coal, 1.7 millions pounds of stone, sand and gravel, and 68,000-plus pounds of other minerals and metals. The computers we use have gold and silver in them, along with many other minerals. Hybrid cars have an extra 50 percent copper in them than the gas burners. Where do you think all of the silicone, copper, lead and nickel will come from to cover the desert with solar panels? Gold is used for electronics, dentistry, medicine, computers, aerospace, as well as financial backing for struggling countries.

In 1996, the annual consumption of minerals was 45,931 pounds for each of the 265 million Americans, and their life expectancy was 76.1 years. Today, the annual consumption of those same minerals is 47,769 pounds per capita and there are 300 million people in the U.S., expected to live to an average of 77.8 years. And when you compare America to the extraordinary growth in China and India, those numbers pale in comparison (see www.mii.org).

So next time anyone feels like banging out a letter to e-mail the Empire about stopping mining, remember that none of it would be possible without mining, and your consumptive habits are the reason we need mining. And until you are ready to give up all those things mining provides you (like a house?), then your complaints are just a wee bit hypocritical.

In the meantime, I say keep the schools running and keep the mines on track.

Tim Arnold

Juneau



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