At all points in mining – from the way mined materials are extracted from the earth to the ways they are utilized by consumers around the world – advanced technologies and mining go hand-in-hand.
Inside today’s mines, drones collect imagery to provide three-dimensional site maps, while autonomous vehicles increase safety and enhance productivity. Once mined, minerals such as copper, silver, gold and lithium make up the components of today’s most sophisticated technologies, such as smart phones and electric vehicles. And, when coal is used to power homes and businesses around the world, the high efficiency, low emission (HELE) technologies employed in new coal plants are opening a new chapter in affordable and reliable energy while providing the first step to near zero emissions from coal.
Everywhere you look, American mining is fueling, furthering and utilizing innovation. To ensure we continue to encourage this trajectory U.S. policy needs to change – and according to new polling, American voters agree.
Coal and nuclear today account for 50 percent of U.S. electricity, but the average coal plant is 39 years old and the average nuclear plant is 36 years old. These plants are ripe for upgrades that would make them more efficient and reduce emissions. And a majority of U.S. voters – 55 percent – believe the U.S. government should take action to upgrade the aging coal and nuclear fleet, according to a poll conducted by Morning Consult for NMA. Separately, when voters learn that the U.S. trails globally in the use of HELE technologies, 73 percent of American voters believe the U.S. should be prioritizing their use.
In addition, U.S. minerals mining has been an important partner in stimulating American innovation. Minerals and metals are essential, irreplaceable components of modern technology. But the U.S. is increasingly reliant on imported raw materials for our domestic supply chain, even when we have one of the world’s richest domestic minerals reserves. The same poll found that a majority of voters want to see that change with 57 percent of voters supporting legal and regulatory reform to encourage the responsible use of domestically-mined mineral and metals.
While those inside Washington often get caught up in the divisive politics and partisan positions of the day, most Americans are far more practical. U.S. voters support a grid powered by diverse fuel sources utilizing the world’s most advanced technologies to reduce emissions. And they believe that the innovative technologies they use every day should be made in America and mined in America. So whether it is implementing cutting-edge technologies or accessing the raw materials that make these technologies possible, we can and should be doing more to further U.S. policies that help us accomplish both.