SA Mining Columns
Why Mining Will Always Be An Essential Industry
In recent years there has been some debate as to the status of the global mining industry. Questions have been asked: is mining a sunset or a sunrise industry? How can mining survive if global growth is limited? Now that all the “easy” deposits have been mined, where do we go from here?
Yes, the global mining industry is not in a good shape at present, but it will never be a sunset industry. There is an old adage, which is even truer today: if you can’t grow it, you must mine it.
What is problematic is that the mining industry is its own worst enemy when it comes to public relations. It is not good at telling people what products it produces for the world, or how essential these products are to maintaining and improving everybody’s lifestyles.
In South Africa, bodies such as the Chamber of Mines are starting to provide the public with real information on issues such as safety record improvements, the completion of environmental work by mines and job creation. Other professional bodies, such as the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, the Mining Industry Association of South Africa and the Council for Geoscience, should be doing the same, as this would impact both consumer buying patterns and the public’s objections to mining.
Global environmental concerns relating to climate change are also providing an impetus to the mining industry. Many countries, including South Africa, are focusing on changing transportation patterns by introducing mass transit systems and bicycle lanes.
These are constructed almost entirely from materials that are mined, including the bicycles. In addition, solar panels, photovoltaic panels and heat pumps all require products from mines.
Mining cannot be a sunset industry. It will certainly move with the macroeconomic cycles, but will always be an essential part of the world’s everyday life.
Mining asteroids is now the new concept: the sun never sets on these.