Making Bank and Producing Waste! Can there be a middle ground?

Timothy LeCain argues that there are negative effects of mining on the environment and the air quality.  In the twentieth century the main buzz of the country was the mining industry or also known as large-scale mineral smelting operations.  These mine operations had tons of attention due to the conflicts it created because of all the pollution problems.  It was a hot debate amongst economic and political interests as whether the mines were causing damages to local and regional ecosystems.  Some of the types of people that were hurt because of the pollution were hardworking farmers and ranchers.  Timothy J. LeCain explains why these people were in fear when he stated, “Farmers, ranchers, and nearby townspeople complained that the smelter smoke damaged their crops, land, and stock animals (LeCain, pg. 138).  If the smoke was truly harmful to the all of the important things mentioned than that could be detrimental to the farmers, ranchers, and people’s livelihood.  The operators of the mines had to quickly respond to all the incoming criticism so they said that they had to release the pollutants if they wanted to remain economically viable.  In order to calm down and stop the conflicts that had arisen there were engineers and scientists sent out to make technological fixes.  These were machines that could develop a solution to all the problems so far.  According to LeCain the three types of Technological fixes were: “the transformational techno-fix, the relocational techno-fix, and the delaying techno-fix” (LeCain, pg. 138).


With the knowledge that mining pumps out terrible air pollution in mind I believe that we still need copper and other minerals.  Copper is a very useful mineral that makes things easier such as conducting electricity.  It can also be used for heating and motors.  Life would be much harder without it.  I think that LeCain’s argument is very interesting and is a tough decision.  The best solution would be to move these mines are far away from people, animals, and crops as possible.  We need the two sides to both coexist for the country to be as successful as possible.

2 thoughts on “Making Bank and Producing Waste! Can there be a middle ground?”

  1. I agree with you there are certain natural resources we depend on, but I also think we have to take a much smarter approach in evaluating how much we need those resources as well as how we acquire them. Simply mining in unpopulated areas in not always realistic due to 1) minerals may not exist in unpopulated areas and 2) populations grow around industry. Look at Butte’s population boom and bust. A good first step is evaluating need vs profit. If the decision is made to move forward, decisions should not be left to science and industry as to how to proceed but should involve a “humanist” viewpoint. It may slow the process and cut profits to think harder and look closer, but it could also mitigate unintended consequences throughout the process.

  2. Hello Will! After reading your blog about mining and techno-fixes, i agreed with your take on how mining should be continued but also we must produce more techno-fixes to create a safe and controllable environment for the agriculture and nature around the mine site. I don’t agree that we can “move” mines from certain locations because mines cannot randomly start mining at a random place. There needs to be a pocket of what ever mineral you are mining present underground for mining to take place. I understand why you would want to move mines farther from dense human areas but the Earth is only going to get more populated by humans and eventually mining away from people and agriculture might be impossible.

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