I haven’t said anything about mining. Let me fix that.
Mining always takes out far more than it ever gives back. But that is true of any economic activity. Except primitive agriculture by cavemen, and buffalo hunting by Injuns. Even then, the buffalo nearly became extinct.
Minerals don’t grow back. After mine owners get the lion’s share of proceeds, nothing worth mentioning ever goes back to the earth or to the people in the mined up places.
This is why mining must take several steps more than pure extraction. This is the polite way of saying scrapping off the thin fertile layer of the earth and leaving nothing behind on which anything can grow.
That said let me add: every country has lived by mining; every civilization did more mining to become great.
The Roman Empire thrived on mining. Mining even created jobs for slaves but it must be said that miners today at least pay slave wages.
The United States grew great by mining itself near to desolation.
So did Canada. So did every strong country in the world. England tore up its countryside and cut down all its trees and mined all its coal to pay the cost of navy and empire before they paid dividends. So did France and Germany, and Latin America when it was rich at the turn of the last century as it never will be again.
Not to mine at all, indeed, to condemn mining across the board is correct—until you stop and think: “What is the value of minerals to men if they stay in the ground?” Nothing. You cannot even admire the beauty of minerals underground.
It is wrong to say that all mining is bad. That is like saying cattle grazing and farming are bad. Taken to extremes, they create deserts where grass doesn’t grow nor buffalo run.
The correct thing to say is that mining, like farming and cattle raising, is fine, if responsibly done so the earth renews itself and these activities can continue—productively, sustainably; wiser and more profitably done.
Mining is not renewable; so do it in a way that the land left behind sustains another activity when all the mining is done.
It is wrong to say that all mining is bad. A distinction must be made. And the mining industry must take the initiative.
Instead of hanging together the good miners with the bad, usually small time miners—leave the irresponsible to hang separately.
And in lieu of the present Chamber of Mines put up another in its place. A group composed of responsible miners.
And call it—the Respectable Chamber of Mines.