Like most people, we were riveted to the unfolding story of the rescue of the Chilean miners last month. It was a story of the power of the human spirit. The courage of the miners, the faith of their families and the selfless determination and ingenuity of the rescuers and all of the supporting groups around the world will be remembered as key parts of one of the most heroic events of our time.
But the mining industry has a long history of disasters on this scale and the majority of them do not provide us with the joyful ending of the Chilean mine cave-in. Thousands of people lose their lives every year in mining disasters. Major media events like the Chilean mine disaster bring into focus the question of sustainable alternatives and what price are we willing to pay.
Copper Is A Shining Example Of The Beauty of Recycling
Copper is one of the most plentiful non-ferrous metals on the planet. Throughout known history approximately 700 billion pounds of copper has been mined and nearly all of this copper is still in circulation because copper’s recycling rate is higher than that of any other engineering metal.
In fact, each year in the United States, nearly as much copper is recovered from recycled material as is derived from newly mined ore.
Excluding wire production, most of which uses newly refined copper, more than 75% of the amount used by copper and brass mills, ingot makers, foundries, powder plants and other industries comes from recycled scrap.
Almost 50% of all recycled copper scrap is old post-consumer scrap, such as discarded electric cable, junked automobile radiators and air conditioners, or even ancient Egyptian plumbing.
If It Can Work For Copper…
Without question, mining is a critical industrial sector in countries around the world. It is important to their economies and to the way of life that many people enjoy. But for the most part it involves chasing finite resources, more dangerous operations and ultimately postponing an inevitable day of reckoning which comes at a hefty cost in terms of the environment, the people working directly in those mines and all the local businesses that depend on those jobs.
Scrap metal recycling, on the other hand, is a dramatically less dangerous form of urban and industrial mining that provides real benefits to industry, the local economy and most importantly, the environment.
Unfortunately the recycling industry works largely without the recognition, fanfare and public and economic supports of traditional mining companies. Yet it performs the function of supplying the metal market in a much more economical and environmentally beneficial way.
As time goes by, the argument for active support for the recycling industry becomes much more viable.
We likely will be mining at least as long as there is a gap between what we are consuming and what we are recycling. The real question is how much effort are we willing to make to close that gap.
In the new world that is emerging out of the last recession, we are starting to see many companies and corporations behaving in a much more environmentally responsible way.
We can only hope that this trend will grow as these companies respond to the demands of the public for higher levels of environmental responsibility.
Our tag line at Peel Scrap Metal Recycling Ltd. is “New Life for Old Metals.” This line signifies two important things.
1. Our complete dedication to the recycling of both ferrous and non ferrous metals and
2. Our participation as part of the larger community of Urban Miners, to help educate and inform the public and the business sectors on the importance and environmental value of the recycling work we do.