Many of us forget our reliance on raw materials
Now that the tailings spill earlier this month at the Mount Polley mine is rightly the subject of an investigation by a third-party panel of experts, British Columbians can expect to get some much-needed answers to why the mine’s tailings dam failed. The sooner we have those answers, the better.
But make no mistake; mining — done properly — will continue to be a crucial aspect of our society and our economy. While a tailings dam failure such as we just witnessed is absolutely unacceptable, responsible mining must continue.
I have often said an educational campaign is required to re-connect British Columbians to their natural resource sector and to explain how so many of the products we depend on every day are derived from this sector. It’s for this reason I agreed to chair the advisory council of the non-profit Resource Works Society, an organization dedicated to educating British Columbians about the resource sector and its important role in B.C.’s future.
It is easy to become disconnected from the importance of our natural resources. Most of us have busy lives surrounded by urban environments that appear far removed from the forestry, mining and energy extraction on which our civilization and much of our economy is based.
Until a front-page calamity like the Mount Polley incident occurs, the natural resource sector appears invisible to many of us living in B.C. urban areas and so many of us tend to disregard or minimize its importance, or just forget it exists.
What many of us don’t realize is that without a properly managed natural resource sector operating responsibly in regions across this province, the standard of living we enjoy would be seriously curtailed. If this sector were to disappear, much of the provincial economy, including the economies of many of B.C.’s cities and towns, would come to a grinding halt.
And almost all of our modern comforts, from the wires that bring electricity into our homes to the pipes that transport our drinking water, from the chairs we sit on to the clothes we wear, from the smartphones we depend on to the cars we drive — all these products flow, in whole or in part, from a bounty of natural resources, many of which we produce in B.C.
Many of our electronic devices, for example, contain metals mined from mineral ores as well as plastic components derived from petroleum and natural gas-based processing. The average vehicle contains 50 pounds of copper — 40 pounds for electrical and 10 pounds for non-electrical components.
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