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The Wise Environmetalist (sic) Or Organic Metal Mining and You

By Skeert Grause

All around us the exploding world populations are demanding and taking what they think is their fair share of the earth’s natural bounty—how dare they. Whether it is fish from the oceans, metals from deep mines, timber from the forests, harvests from the fields, demand for resources on our planet, and the waste and pollution generated to get them have never been greater. Whether you think the earth can sustain all of us in our resource gluttony or not is immaterial, what you do is not.

If you might be an itsy bit concerned about the consequences of the earth being torn asunder, seas ravaged and ecologic destruction pandemic as a cumulate result of all 6.8 billion (at present) of us and our incessant need for resources, you might want to familiarize yourself with the underlying foundations of the great wealth that we have in most of North America and the environmental and societal costs we have paid and will continue to pay for eons to come.

Looking at the basics : good food to eat, cozy shelter from the weather, clean water to drink, and where most of our children grow up to be old— Whoa—We are wealthy. From Panama to the Arctic for the most part it’s good—pretty frigging good.

Yet we are only separated by a few thousands of years from when most of our ancestors had only a sharpened stone on a long stick to hunt game and protect themselves with— caves and huts in the ground to live in. We trusted only our little families and with sticks and stones we beat up on each other for the best hunting, fishing and food gathering sites. And when we discovered metals—hell fire— we started farming and raising animals and sending bronze sword wielding armies to distant lands stealing stuff and bringing back trade agreements. (Some things don’t change).

The ancients started mining and working metals and the rest is history, as they say, and add in a little gunpowder—watch out. But here is the rub. Mining is perceived by the average North American consumer as BAD BAD BAD — mining is bad — polluting —“look at the mess they left”— “and it only enriches large corporations and greedy stockholders at the expense of indigenous peoples”.

WHOA. It is our ability to dig metal substances out of the ground, to make tools, that allows us to make everything we use. Iron, tin, copper, silver, gold and yuck even arsenic. You know—iPods, Priuses and skis.

Mostly forgotten now, it was our nation’s ability to use our natural resources, metals, very quickly, (and messily) that helped us to win World War II.

But our environment has paid a big price (and we are still paying) for this as we consumers demanded cheap metals, procured with the environmental standards and worries of the past —None— Whose to blame? OK lets blame all the greedy dead people—fine—move on.

We now know that throwing your toxic wastes into the nearest creek is not a sustainable practice and we know it is expensive— but critically necessary— that mining and all resource harvesting, for that matter, needs to be permitted with well engineered “best practices” mandates.

We use and need metals. If you stopped for a second and thought about the size of hole in the earth that’s been dug out to provide the raw ore for the metals you—yes you—have demanded by your purchases, you might realize that there’s a huge hole somewhere with your name on it. You, by buying that new Prius, that iPod, that titanium bike, have sent a direct request to the driller at the face in the mine to load up some more powder, to blast some more of what you need. Then all the hauling, crushing and milling, hauling smelting hauling processing etc—It’s yours— the metals and the waste and pollution.

Either you get your metals from mines and smelters and processors that operate responsibly with “best practices,” where adverse effects (pollution-waste storage, etc) are mitigated as best as possible— or you don’t. You’re still going to buy and use the metals. If you don’t allow responsible mining in your backyard where you can insist on best practices, create jobs for your people, and mandate responsible reclamation, you’ll just be getting your metals from countries where there are little environmental safeguards, if any— essentially exporting your pollution elsewhere.

They’re your metals baby, or “baby metals” —make sure you properly dispose of the diapers. Know your “metal footprint.” Take responsibility for your consumption and support local mineral extraction— but make sure it’s done to “best practices.” By developing resources in your own backyard you make sure you dictate the rules — force operators and the governmental permitting agencies to adhere to best practices or shut them down. Make sure the real costs of mining, processing and manufacturing and responsible cleanup (that have been performed at your request— with your name on them) are paid up front by you, not shuffled to future generations. Buy “Organic” metals — those mined, processed, reclaimed and recycled by “best practices.”

By teaching children the “history” of where the things they use come from, and the costs to get them, and involving them in discussions of “highest and best use” of our lands, we pass along lessons learned on what not to do while responsibly showing them that by employing “best practices” we can procure and use metals wisely.

Be an Envirometalist (sic)—“Think Globally- Mine Locally”

(This is not written in support of, nor against any potential mining in Mazama)

By Skeert Grause

Mayor of mythical Venison, Washington
Located in your dreams somewhere west of the Weeman Bridge.

Note: Due to the concern of many Methow Valley residents of the decades old talk of potential development of the Mazama Porphyry Copper-Molybdenum-Gold deposit, Mr. Grause and the Venison, Washington community rely on their consulting exploration geologist, Alec Creighton, of the Mazama area, for guidance in these matters.

“Mr. Creighton’s 30 plus years exploring for mineral deposits in North America and his unabashed support for ‘‘Organic’’ metal mining, gives us confidence that we’ll get what we pay for ~ free advice.” ~ Skeert Grause

Alec Creighton says of potential mining in Mazama: The Methow Valley is underlain by a wide assemblage of rocks that are as varied and diverse (and yes, some well mineralized) as are the rugged individuals (and yes, some quite wealthy), that call this place home. Proposed developments, whether downhill skiing, golf, or open-pit copper mining, have, and are likely to be met with fierce opposition by historically successful, very well funded grass rooted environmentalists (sic) that, to permit a mine, even one designed to “best practices,” might require the second coming of Jesus, Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa, probably all together, singing “Wild Thing” by the Troggs.

This does not, however, mean that the Mazama copper-molybdenum-gold deposit isn’t there, and Sandy Butte wouldn’t make a great downhill ski area. “Highest and Best Use” of our immediate resources appears to be saving them for future generations—the land, the fish, the lynx and the natural concentrations of copper, molybdenum and gold, at least for now. Let’s teach our children to be good stewards of the land and use their metals wisely.

March 13th, 2009