Unless you’re a monk seeking enlightenment in a cave somewhere (in which case, what are you doing reading articles on the internet?), your daily life is inextricably intertwined with the mining industry. The mining sector gets a bad rap in the media, much of it richly deserved. However, In thousands of ways you’re probably not even aware of, our economy, as well as the products you enjoy and rely on are dependent on stuff that was pulled out of the ground. To illustrate this point, here are five facts everyone should know:
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1. Mining contributes greatly to the community
Beyond the products it provides and the people it directly employs, mining also creates a massive amount of opportunities for workers and small business owners. From the LED mining light towers they lease to the chefs and admin workers they employ, mines funnel a whole lot of money back into the broader community. Many mining companies are also known to contribute to the development of schools and infrastructure in the townships from which they source most of their workers.
2. Even renewable energy initiatives need mining
Solar, hydroelectric, nuclear energy, and wind turbines all rely heavily (and rather ironically) on mining. The steel, aluminum, and fiberglass used to construct these eco-friendly energy-production alternatives are all obtained from extractive industries. Meanwhile, the circuits and microchips that control these technologies are built from mined metals (such as neodymium and gold).
3. Your food comes to you courtesy of the mines
This may sound strange since humans were obviously consuming food long before mining was a thing. However, in the modern world, food production is heavily reliant on mining. Many fertilizers (like potash) come from the mines, as do the metal tools you use to prepare, cook, and consume your food. Then there’s the gas you cook with and the plastic or glass containers in which you store leftovers.
4. Movies wouldn’t exist without mining
There’d be no date nights at the cinema or curled up on the couch with Netflix if it wasn’t for mining. From the stages and sets to the lighting, sound production, and cameras, almost every element of the entertainment industry is a product of mining. Then there are all the servers, cables, hardware, and circuitry that go into the devices used to create, transmit, and receive films and TV shows.
5. All your health, beauty, and medical supplies come from mining
Modern beauty products that contain minerals like zinc, talc, iron, and silica all owe their existence to mining. The same is true for soaps and vitamins, your toothpaste and shampoo, and even the nappy rash cream you use on your little ones.
Gym equipment is constructed from mined metals like aluminum, iron, and titanium. Electronics gym equipment can also contain quartz, copper, gold, tantalum, germanium, and a host of other mined materials. There are no organic farmers growing watches or smartphones.
Instead, these items are constructed from plastics, crystals, and metals mined from the earth. Similarly, medical equipment and devices like pacemakers and EpiPens all require a mix of products that are only possible thanks to mining.
The inevitable conclusion these facts lead to is this: unless you’re willing to give up all your modern conveniences, move off-grid, and use hand-made tools to survive, there’s no way for you to non-hypocritically criticize the mining industry. Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be striving for more sustainable alternatives to mining. However, it makes sense to do so from an informed position.