Precious and rare earth metals are vital for the production of the technologies that will drive our clean energy economy, including smartphones, electric cars, LED lights, and wind turbines. Across the globe, new precious metal and rare earths mines are being rapidly proposed and permitted in the quest for commodities considered “critical” and “strategic” for our national economic and technological security.
In the United States, mining proponents argue that new mines will bring jobs to devastated rural economies. In contrast, mining opponents express concerns about long-term impacts to water and soil, as well as the poor record of many global mining companies interested in doing business in their backyards.
Mining companies, and their industry associations, are responding that they can usher in a new era of “responsible” and “sustainable” mining. While some communities push against such claims, other regions of the nation are more willing to accept this “green bargain.”
This website includes a primer on what precious and rare earth metals are, documents mining stories from locations across the United States, and explores if “urban mining” might be an alternative. We also document exciting waste-art initiatives that draw our attention to the challenges of mining in the 21st century.