December 15, 2011
Last year, a record 242.9 million ounces of silver were needed to...
In his book, The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age, David Abraham explains how industrialization and technological advancement has spurred an increase in our use of minerals and metals in comparison to previous decades. He writes that, “These metals create brilliant colors on our smartphone screens, powerful batteries in our hybrids and more energy-efficient air-conditioners.” Notably, our use of gold, copper and rare metals has increased 27 times in the past 100 years.
Abraham notes that consumers typically replace these products more frequently than they have in the past as advancement in technologies is occurring more rapidly. This increases the need to supply the minerals and metals that make our products. And as the global economy continues to improve, use of these products is expected to increase. He writes that, “Cisco, the American network equipment company, reports that in 2010 over 12.5 billion devices were connected to the Internet. That number will quadruple by 2020 to 50 billion.”
The U.S. has an abundant supply of minerals and metals—like gold, copper, molybdenum, silver and uranium—that are essential for the technology industry. With a mineral resource supply worth an estimated $6.2 trillion, the U.S. can be a global leader in technology production and innovation. Unfortunately, current mine permitting policies inhibit U.S. industries from accessing the nation’s homegrown mineral resource supply. It is imperative that the U.S. improves access to its mineral supply in order to meet the growing demands of industries that create products like our smartphones, computers and renewable energy technologies.