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Vol. 15, No. 51 Week of December 19, 2010
Providing coverage of Alaska and Northwest Canada's mineral industry

Mining News: We should take ‘the road less traveled’

NWMA program, ‘The More You Dig,’ offers us an unprecedented opportunity to reach young people with the truth about modern mining

J. P. Tangen

For Mining News

During the winter months, many of us who follow the mining industry find ourselves involved in conventions and other meetings that, among other things, give us a chance to take the pulse of the industry. Of course, there are many indicia of our condition – US$1,400 gold and other attractive prices for commodities; the sure and certain knowledge that mining law “reform” has been kicked down the field for a few years; the sheer volume of work that crosses my desk; etc. Nonetheless, one doesn’t have to have too many gray hairs to know, as we say in the legal business, “sic transit, gloria mundi.” That does not mean that Gloria can’t get to work because the subway is broken, it means simply that “this too shall pass.”

But there is one new and exciting thing that is unfolding – the mining industry is moving into the 21st Century – albeit kicking and screaming. What I am referring to is the new program under development by the Northwest Mining Association called, “The More You Dig.” This program, addressed to college students and Capitol Hill staffers, goes a long way toward introducing the target audience to the role of minerals in their society. I strongly urge you to go to and take a look. I think you will be pleased.

There is more, much more. This will not be a success if those of us who care, simply look at it once and forget it. It must be interactive, and this is the important point. YOU are going to have to do something. The More You Dig has a presence on the various social media, especially YouTube, Twitter, BlogSpot and Facebook. Facebook is especially relevant. Facebook has virtually replaced email as a means of communication among people under 30. We have a commitment from Isabelle (“Izzy”) LaBranch, the manager of The More You Dig program, to develop and post messages on Facebook and the other social media about developments in the industry, especially with regard to news accounts.

The social media are an opportunity for the target audience to talk back and to ask questions. And that provides us with the incomparable opportunity to set the record straight. No issue is too sensitive and no question is too dumb, to be responded to by knowledgeable professionals from the industry. Furthermore, it is an incredible opportunity for those of us in the market to find bright, young motivated candidates for employment.

For too many decades, we as an industry have bemoaned our lot – being kicked around unjustly by environmentalists and an insensitive government. Up until this point, our favorite remedy has been to wring our hands. Now, for once, we have a chance to stand up and be heard. There is nothing less difficult than getting on Facebook and crafting a few lines for all the world to see.

Certainly, this is the road less traveled. As a general rule, between security and anti-trust considerations on the one hand and being “too busy making a living” on the other, we have allowed ourselves to be sucked into the abyss. But now the time for all that has passed. One does not have to disclose inside information to make it clear that hybrid cars require a LOT of copper, or that modern mining in America is a safe and environmentally sound industry that pays qualified people well. One does not have to make a major time commitment to make the point that the rescue in Chile was possibly the miracle of the decade if not the century and that Americans and American know-how was hugely responsible for the successful outcome for the trapped miners.

The story of the mining industry is incredibly positive. No one can better tell that story than the miners themselves. Choosing not to be involved is analogous to choosing not to take prescribed medication. You may get along without it for a while, but you are putting your very future at risk.

For me, the matter is simple; we should all support this effort. Speaking out should no longer be the road less taken. Reducing it to its simplest form – I challenge every reader of this column to open a Facebook account and become my Facebook friend. I promise not to overload you with trash mail, but if it brings us a little closer to supporting this worthwhile project, then it will be a fair reward for all of us.

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