Without mining, many aspects of the world as we currently know it would cease to exist. The reason why the mining industry is such a major employer within Australia and internationally is because of how useful and irreplaceable minerals are across so many contexts.
Those within the public may not be aware of the usefulness of metals, or the extent to which the life they live is made possible by minerals. Their familiarity may only extend as far as the more obvious applications, like energy production or construction.
In this article, the mining law team at Hetherington will be exploring a few of the less obvious applications of minerals – from food processing to sustainable technologies.
Have a look in your pantry and see how many foods come in tins, or have metal lids. Tuna, sardines, pasta sauces, pre-made meals like ravioli or spaghetti, coffee pods, canned vegetables, and canned fruit are just a few examples of how essential mining of Tin, Aluminium and other metals is to food processing globally.
The process of preparing food also relies on metals such as Chromium, Manganese, and Iron. Food itself may rely on Copper to reduce contamination, such as by E Coli bacteria, during the preparation or storage phases. Finally, Sodium (or salt as we know it) makes certain foods that much tastier.
Minerals are an indispensable component of our healthcare system. For example, Titanium is commonly used for artificial joints or prosthetics, given its exceptional strength. Platinum is commonly deployed within pacemakers to keep struggling hearts in rhythm. Minerals are also crucial within medicines and treatments, such as Uranium for certain cancer treatments.
If you are reading this on your phone, then you are holding literally dozens of minerals in your hand. The electrical components of your phone use Silver, Tantalum, Tungsten, Gold and Copper. The long-lasting battery features Lithium and Cobalt. The touch screen and the sound system feature their own array of metals. Without mining, our modern-day connections would not be a reality.
It is obvious that metal is involved in traditional fuel-powered motor vehicles with combustion engines, but less immediately clear how essential mining remains to sustainable modes of transport. Metal will forever remain essential to the construction of the car body and chassis. Windscreens are often polished with Cerium, and the sand used to make glass must itself be mined. Most significantly, the magnets used in RV motors and EV batteries require mined components, such as Lithium, Cobalt, Dysprosium and Neodymium.
We have mining to thank for the production and construction of our whitegoods. Mining literally keeps our food cold, our clothes clean, our water boiled, and our smoothies blended. Stainless steel alloys are used in more than three quarters of all fridges, and include many minerals such as Carbon, Silicon, and Chromium. Copper is used within the electrical wiring and the compressors that make certain whitegoods run.
Does your house feature solar panels on the roof to help you save on your energy bills, or reduce your emissions? Solar panels depend almost entirely on mining, with the panels themselves being composed from a motley of minerals including Cadmium, Tellurium, Germanium, and many others. The semi-conductor also features Boron and Phosphorous. And how about the frame that protects the panel?
Mining is to thank for that cleanly scrubbed benchtop in your house – both the benchtop, and the fact it’s clean. It is responsible for the soft fabric of your clothes, the glistening panes of your shower glass, and the cleanliness of your pool. Chlorine, Phosphorus, Silicon and Iodine are just a few of the minerals used within your cleaning products.
Those with a fake tan, no bodily odour, glistening teeth, no sunburn, a clean-shaven face, or make-up are almost certainly beneficiaries of the mining industry. From the Calcium and Fluorine in toothpaste to the Aluminium and Zirconium of Deodorant, the resources extracted by mining operations in Australia and from around the world keep us in good shape.
Those sitting at home watching television have mining to thank for their favourite programs. From the transport that takes directors and actors to far-off locations, to the film equipment the captures the content, to the computer systems and batteries that allow these shows to be edited and then watched at home, mining has played an important role in delivering entertainment throughout the ages.
More about Hetherington
Hetherington provides specialist legal advice to those in the resources industry. Our experienced team can support mining corporations through land access and compensation agreements, due diligence and VALMIN reporting, and mining and exploration projects.
Our services include support with tenements, mine work health and safety, or your program of work, and we can provide support by acting as your environmental consultants, mining lawyers, and tenement consultants offering tenement management services.
Proud supporters of the mining industry, we aim to empower mining operations in the same way mining empowers everyday life.