National Geographic : 1977 Feb
"Thatmine sure messed up that hillside: Which best serves our society's needs, a mountain or the metal it holds? Both are important. Whether deep or shallow, mining scars the land. Surface mining re moves vegetation. Sometimes diverts and contaminates streams. Bares the earth to wind and water erosion. Deep mining, too, has its impacts in unsightly tailings, subsidence, aban doned structures. Inevitably, as ore deposits diminish, our metals search must widen. Con cerned people fear the search may lead to public lands or scenic wilder ness areas. Yet, we must have metals. Each year we require 40,000 pounds of new mineral supplies per person for our power plants, transportation, schools, machine tools, homes, bridges, medi cal uses, heavy equipment. We should take advantage of our mineral wealth by mining it. But we must not do it at the expense of every thing else. Mining doesn't need to be totally dis ruptive. We can hold air and water pollution to a reasonable minimum. We can bring surface mined lands back to a useful purpose. We can sculpt tailing slopes and landscape mine areas to reduce the eyesore. We should explore public as well as private lands-to take inventory of our mineral resources. In every case we must weigh the economic and en vironmental priorities for the greatest good. And then decide to deep mine, surface mine or not mine at all. Wise choices require a public attitude that recognizes both essentiality of metals and the need for environmental re sponsibility. Caterpillar makes machines to pre pare mining and smelting sites, to mine and reclaim land. And we con sider a healthy, responsible mining in dustry vital to our nation's well being. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. I CATERPILLAR Caterpir. Catand U are Trademarksof Caterpiar TractorCo "Thatmine yielded gold for 50 years!"