It takes a smart dog to find hidden treasures

Life Without Mining

Even subsistance living requires some mining.  Modern life requires a lot more.

There is a lot of discussion on mining sustainability or sustainable mining, about how mining can be made sustainable.  There is also a fair amount about how mining is counter to sustainability. 

I would like to present a different perspective, life, let alone sustainability, is not possible without mining, except at a subsistence level and even than you have to do some mining (napped flint arrow heads do wear out).

First, recycling is less than 100% efficient, you do not recover 100% of the material regardless of what you are processing.  In the best case you can recover 95%.  Second, in producing some items (clear glass for example) you have to use mostly un-recycled material.

To achieve sustainability without mining you would need to have a contracting economy (and population).  Check out the simple math, if in the first cycle you have 100% of the material you need and you ban mining, in the second cycle you only have 95% of the material you need, 92.5% in the third, and by the 15th less than 50%.

And under optimal conditions (not currently achievable) within these 15 cycles you would need to reduce the population by 50%.  And continue contracting.

So for zero growth, just maintaining where we are you need to mine a minimum of 5% mew material if you could recovery 95% of the recycled material at high energy efficiencies.

Even going "off the grid" requires mining for the materials in the wind turbines, low head hydroelectric, solar cells, even for the newest "Free energy from air".

Even basic hunter/gathering requires some mining, if for nothing else for the stones to make arrow heads and stone knives. 


MIke Albrecht, P.E.

o   40+ years’ experience in the mining industry with strong mineral processing experience in precious metals, copper, industrial minerals, coal, and phosphate

o   Operational experience in precious metals, coal, and phosphate plus in petrochemicals.

o   Extensive experience performing studies and determining feasibility in the US and international (United States, Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, and Greece).

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