December 15, 2011
Last year, a record 242.9 million ounces of silver were needed to...
This week, NBC News discussed the link between the emerging wind and solar energy industries and U.S. mining. Minerals are the building blocks of the technological innovation that powers these industries and the mining sector hosts many wind and solar farms on hundreds of acres of restored mining land. Minerals mining and new energy technologies do more than coexist, they thrive together.
Minerals provide the backbone of the energy technologies that power the United States. From copper and nickel used in solar cells and wind turbines, to cobalt used in hybrid vehicles, minerals are nothing short of essential to America’s diverse energy portfolio.
Moreover, there is nothing more important to U.S. mining than being a good neighbor and environmental steward to the communities in which its companies operate. Even before mining can commence, a plan to restore the proposed mine site to another beneficial use must be developed and approved by regulatory agencies, with funding set aside to complete the restoration work. NBC News cites one of the National Mining Association’s member companies, PacifiCorp Energy, whose reclamation plan was “to build renewable resources for its customers” through wind power:
“Among the early forays into the space of renewable energy on abandoned mine lands is a $500 million, 237-megawatt wind power project built by PacifiCorp between 2008 and 2009 on a depleted surface coal mine in Wyoming that supplied a nearby power plant from 1958 to 2000.
The site, which had been the subject of reclamation work since 1999, fit with PacifiCorp’s desire and regulatory need ‘to build renewable resources for our customers,’ Mark Tallman, the company’s vice president for renewable resources, told NBC News.”
Over the past 30 years, U.S. mining has reclaimed and restored more than 2.6 million acres of land—that’s an area larger than Yellowstone National Park. U.S. mining is dedicated to being a responsible environmental steward and invests heavily in the development of new technologies and processes to minimize environmental impacts.
As a diverse array of energy sources continue to play an important role in our energy mix, the demand for the minerals they are made from will also rise. With the establishment of an efficient domestic minerals policy, U.S. mining can lead the way to a more secure and innovative future without compromising rigorous environmental review. U.S. policymakers need to understand the link between energy production and critical minerals and see the importance of long-term development of minerals and metals reserves.
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