Mining Tech and Minerals at the Forefront of Sustainability

Posted on April 24, 2017 by Minerals Make Life

A recent poll conducted by Morning Consult shows that the majority of Americans have misconceptions about the important and positive role mining companies play in environmental stewardship and sustainable development.

In reality, the minerals mining industry has made significant advancements in environmentally sensitive operations. At the same time, scientists and technology companies increasingly rely on mined minerals to create sustainable tech like water filtration systems, solar panels, wind energy and rechargeable batteries.

Without accurate information and proper education about the mining industry—its practices, current regulations and contributions—policymakers may act on misinformation and inaccurate perceptions. The result has been the creation of duplicative and unnecessary rules and restraints on the mining industry.

Read on to learn how American mining is making us more sustainable, while also ensuring an adequate supply of the minerals that make modern life possible.

Minerals as the Powerhouse of Sustainable Development

Mined minerals are the unseen powerhouse behind advances in sustainable development and global health. Some of these critical resources, like silver, are essential to supporting sustainability, health and safety at home and abroad. Silver is mined throughout the Midwest and Alaska and is integral to life-saving technologies. Silver’s unique properties protect against bacterial growth and, when combined with oxygen, can serve as a sanitizer. These properties make silver a key material for water filtration systems. Thanks to these innovations, people in developing countries are now getting access to clean drinking water.

Other minerals—like lithium, copper and molybdenum—are critical to renewable energy technologies. Lithium (mined in Nevada) is used to make the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles. Copper and molybdenum (primarily mined in Arizona), are used to make solar panels and wind turbines.

Mining Technology Advancing Environmental Sustainability

Meanwhile, technologies like geological information systems (GIS) are improving sustainability, monitoring risk and maintaining safety during mining projects. Thanks to these advanced technologies, much of the exploratory process can be conducted through software that analyzes geophysical images.

Software like ArcGIS® can help mining companies choose the best location for their operation and provide accurate community impact assessments. Once a mining project is underway, this software is used to safely move large pieces of equipment, monitor environmental impact, anticipate changes in the landscape and improve efficiency in the event of an emergency. Following a mining project’s completion, databases created by GIS are used to manage reclamation and anticipate problems before they arise. For example, Black Thunder mine in Wyoming used GIS systems to analyze biodiversity.

In addition to GIS, mining companies are minimizing the impact of equipment that powers operations. A new hybrid load-haul dump (LHD) vehicle that incorporates a Kinetic Energy Storage System (KESS) was introduced to the mining community at MINExpo 2016. The KESS helps the LHD reduce its fuel consumption by 30 percent while improving its overall functionality.

Restoring the Land We Operate On

Morning Consult reported that 75 percent of voters were not aware the U.S. mining industry reclaimed 2.9 million acres of land. Furthermore, only seven percent of voters knew that the mining industry has paid $10 billion to restore mined lands. Mine reclamation projects often restore the land in a manner that improves the habitat for native wildlife and helps return the land to a state that can be enjoyed by the local community. Most recently, Kinross Gold worked with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to protect the natural habitats of the mule deer, sage grouse, wild horses and golden eagles living near its Bald Mountain mine.

Help Us Set the Record Straight

These recent poll results reinforce how important it is to combat misperceptions about minerals mining. Please share this information with your legislators today by visiting our action center here.

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