Guest Post: In Arizona, mining and technology industries are linked

Posted on December 09, 2013 by Minerals Make Life

Last month, I sat down with Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, to discuss how the minerals mining industry and high-tech industries in Arizona cooperate.

At the Arizona Technology Council, our positions and initiatives are crafted to create outcomes such as a healthy environment for technology-related job creation, adequate sources of capital that encourage entrepreneurship and highly-trained talent to compete in a global, innovation-based economy.

Increased and streamlined access to minerals falls squarely into those goals, providing the raw materials needed to jump start our economy through high-tech manufacturing.

Copper, for which Arizona is the top producer nationally, is essential to the semiconductor, energy, aerospace and defense sectors. That’s just one of the myriad of mined minerals and metals vital to the technology industry at large.

In the 1980s, just 12 minerals were used in computer chips, a fundamental component of most basic technologies. Now, more than 60 minerals are used for the higher speed, higher capacity chips of today.

There are other ways the two industries are closely intertwined. It’s important for the mining industry to be successful and for costs to be kept low, so that manufacturer’s products remain affordable. It’s because of technology that the mining industry is able to extract natural resources it was previously unable to access, driving supplies up and costs down.

Apple recently announced it would be opening a new manufacturing facility in Mesa, illustrating the economic benefits of mining and technology working together. It is rumored that a form of aluminum oxide called sapphire glass, which forms the basis of many of our computer and smartphone screens as well as camera lenses, will be produced at the facility. What’s more, Apple’s facility is powered almost exclusively by solar panels, another piece of technology that is reliant on minerals.

The Arizona Technology Council furthers the advancement of technology in Arizona through leadership, education, legislation and social action, so we know a bit about what tech companies need to thrive domestically.  Without a robust, successful mining industry in the U.S. and Arizona, our high-tech manufacturing industry wouldn’t be able to succeed.

Steven G. Zylstra Sc.D. (Hon.) serves as president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, a role he assumed in December of 2007. He is responsible for strategy, development, operations and accomplishment of policy development, business goals and objectives and all financial matters related to the Council.  Steven also assumed the role of Chairman of the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) in September 2013 for a 2-year term.  TECNA represents technology councils and associations in almost every state and province in the US and Canada, respectively.

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