The natural resources of the earth are made up of air and water, soil, plants, animals, minerals, and fuels. Everything we need to survive comes from these resources. Some resources, like plants, can be replaced relatively quickly. Some, like trees, take a long time to grow back. Others are non-renewable, so once they’re used up they’ll be gone forever. Like fossil fuels and minerals.
A lot of this is running out and the mining industry has come under close scrutiny for their role in depleting these natural resources, as well as their role in polluting the earth through the mining of the resources, not to mention oil and gas also contributing to pollution. Going forward, the only realistic option for the world is to shift to sustainable solutions, like renewable energy. Let’s explore the role the mining industry plays in developing or destroying a sustainable future.
This includes coal, oil, and natural gas. The world relies on these fuels to produce electricity, power vehicles, provide heating, and to cook. It’s also used to make products like plastics, nylon, cosmetics, cleaning products, and medicines, to mention but a few! These fossil fuels were created millions of years ago and once they’re used up, they can’t be replaced. Similarly, the earth’s raw mineral resources are in danger. Many of the mapped deposits have been depleted by mining operations. Ores are becoming harder to locate and extract and prices are skyrocketing.
Many of the mining methods used to extract fossil fuels and minerals devastate the environment. Animal habitats, plants, and soil are destroyed and toxic chemicals pollute the air and water. In recent years there has been a massive drive for more sustainable mining methods and a move towards using renewable energy – in line with the rest of the world. Despite all the positive repercussions, like reducing harmful emissions and saving money, this shift could negatively affect the mining sector. If coal and oil is no longer needed, how will the mines continue to operate? Will the industry be able to adapt and survive these changes?
The industry is surprisingly adaptable! Mines and mining companies are already making use of renewable energy to power their operations, as well as supplying power to others, for example:
As mining companies become aware that renewable energy is an affordable and sustainable solution, projects like this are driving renewable energy into the forefront. What’s more, mining companies are realizing how renewable energy technology can bring about positive change.
Renewable energy not only has the potential to change the world for the better, it can also have a significantly positive effect on the mining industry in various ways, for example:
While the benefits of renewable energy have been widely publicized, not many people know how important the mining industry is to the success of implementing renewable energy infrastructure across the globe.
In a time where climate change is dominating the decision-making process of most industries, the mining sector is particularly challenged. However, metals and minerals are vital to creating the infrastructure for a renewable, energy-secure future. To store renewable energy, batteries need to be manufactured. A vital ingredient to batteries is lithium, which has to be mined. To create wind energy, wind turbines are needed. Copper is crucial to manufacturing wind turbines. Again, this is something that has to be mined.
Instead of focusing on the negative reputation the mining industry has, we should recognize the symbiotic relationship it has with the renewable energy sector. Without the mining industry, the renewable energy sector would face potentially insurmountable issues. Miners should commit to green initiatives and publish their successes, and eventually, consumers will notice their efforts and how the two industries can not only coexist peacefully, they need one another.