For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.
John F. Kennedy
Though Kennedy was referring to the non-proliferation of nuclear
weapons in his 1963 speech, I contend that these words still ring true today
in the context of climate change.
As we all know, the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Paris
resulted in an unprecedented global willingness to act on our collective concerns.
Much of the Paris Agreement actions are focused on the reduction of
carbon emissions and adaptation to climate change.
Engineers and geoscientists are equipped with the tools, knowledge and
drive to solve such problems. I firmly believe that the mining industry is a
key contributor to reaching these goals by finding ways to reduce energy
consumption, mitigate mining’s environmental impacts and contribute to
developing alternative energy sources.
Underground mines, for example, can serve as storage facilities for carbon
dioxide or other waste, and may also provide a geothermal energy source,
especially those mines that lie deep below the surface. As well, the world has
decided to move away from coal for energy generation and today the most
feasible alternative is nuclear power. It is our task to supply the key component,
uranium, in a secure and safe manner. Lithium, graphite, and rare
earths are essential and irreplaceable to the “clean technology” economy.
Therefore, exploring for and mining these strategic elements must now
become a priority.
The mining industry clearly has much to contribute to solving the climate
change challenge. We do these things, as Kennedy said of sending a man to
the moon, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that
goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills,
because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling
to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”