America's Mining Industry is Vital to Our Economic and
by David F. Briggs
Resolution Copper's 6,943-foot No. 10 Shaft (left) is the
Deepest Single Lift Shaft in the United States
(Photo by David F. Briggs, August 2009)
In December 2014, Resolution Copper finally acquired the
2,400 acre parcel of federal land it needed to develop a large copper deposit
near Superior, Arizona. This property
was obtained through a land swap with the federal government, which was
included within the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act; an omnibus bill
that funds all aspects and operations of the U. S. military establishment. Opponents of mining have claimed this land exchange
should never have been included in this piece of legislation, because it has
nothing to do with our national security.
I strongly disagree.
Over the last several decades, globalization of the world's
economies has resulted in lower costs, more efficient supply chains and access
to more resources. However, these
benefits have not come without a price. It
has also created a dependency on foreign sources for minerals, materials and
finished products. This dependency not
only impacts America, but affects all nations as they compete for their share
of the world market.
Despite America's rich abundance of minerals, our dependency
on foreign sources for these commodities is increasing. According to the U. S. Geological Survey
Commodity Summaries 2015, the United States was at least 50% dependent on
foreign sources for 25 minerals and materials in 1978. By 2014, this number had risen to 43,
including 19 of which America is totally dependent on foreign sources. Many of these commodities are essential for
the defense, technology and energy sectors of our economy (see accompanying
table). Reducing our dependence on
foreign sources for minerals will make America's national security less
vulnerable to decisions made by foreign governments.
With domestic production only accounting for approximately
66% of the copper we consume annually, there is even a shortfall for the second
most common mineral used by the Department of Defense. By-products of copper mining, such as
molybdenum, rhenium, tellurium and platinum group elements, also have important
Our nation's mines are not just holes in the ground. In addition to supplying the minerals we
consume, they are also laboratories where highly trained professionals develop
the new technologies and innovative mining practices required to responsibly meet
our future needs. Without the development
of new mines to replace current domestic producers as their reserves are
depleted, there will be fewer opportunities for the next generation of Americans
to practice and hone the skills required to meet the challenges of the 21st
century. Development of new technologies
and skill sets are essential for remaining competitive in global marketplace
and a strong national security.
I support the responsible development of new mining projects
in Arizona because it helps reduce America's dependence on foreign sources for
minerals, materials and finished products. America's national security depends on our
ability to remain competitive within the global marketplace. New technologies
and mining practices being developed at Resolution Copper and other sites
around Arizona will benefit Americans for many years to come. Products produced by Arizona's mining
industry help reduce our nation’s trade deficits, allowing us to retain more of
our wealth, which can be invested in our nation’s economic future. Mining is one of the industries that has
played an important role in our state's history and will continue to play a
vital role in Arizona's future.
David F. Briggs is a resident of Pima County and a
geologist, who has worked in the mining industry for more than 35 years.
Copyright (2015) by David F. Briggs. Reprint is permitted only if the credit of
authorship is provided and linked back to the source.
Published by Arizona Daily Independent on 5/12/2015.
| Home | Mining and You | Archived Articles | About Us | Contact Us |