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Prioritizing renewable energy and energy independence

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The average American will use more than 3 million pounds of mined materials in their lifetime. Yet, people do not always make the connection between the thousands of products they use every day and the minerals that make them possible. Nevada minerals are why our homes exist. They’re responsible for the roads and sidewalks we use to get to work and school in addition to the cars, buses, and bicycles we ride to get there. In short, Nevada minerals are the first step in our modern-day supply chain, and as our nation looks towards its renewable energy future and energy independence, the Silver State will continue to play a central role.

Both renewable energy and energy independence have become highly prioritized subjects in the United States. While there are many different approaches and potential solutions on how we achieve our goals, what cannot be denied is that domestic mining and minerals produced in Nevada will help us get there.

Those opposing domestic mining only encourage foreign mining in areas where environmental stewardship and civil rights are not as stringent as they are in Nevada. The truth is that nobody mines as responsibly as we do in Nevada.

Nevada is the ideal place to mine and promote an ethical and sustainable landscape. We can be—and are—the international standard for three reasons:

1. Our mining regulations,

2. Our environmental requirements, and

3. The operators that we have here are committed to tackling issues and entering into collaborative agreements that work to find solutions.

It is our industry’s obligation to be aware of the present circumstances and continuously raise our standards to protect the land and our communities. Our industry is willing to address those challenges head on in order to mitigate harm and embrace the opportunity to create dialogue and find solutions.

The push for increased mineral production comes from both the state and federal levels. Gov. Steve Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature have been clear in their desire to reduce the state’s carbon footprint. At the 2021 Legislative Session, bills specifically focused on cultivating Nevada into a clean energy hub and exporter of clean energy by 2030 were easily passed. In that same timeline, the federal government is pushing for as much as 50 percent of all new vehicles sold be electric.

Much work is required to reach those goals. Currently, nearly 80 percent of all solar panels installed in the U.S. are from Chinese companies. The International Energy Agency estimates that lithium demand will increase 70 times over current production in order to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Nevada and the United States leave themselves vulnerable if these materials are not produced stateside. There is an increasing dependence on foreign sources for strategic and critical minerals that Nevada happens to be fertile ground for. And while alternative methods like mineral recycling can be a part of the solution, new production has to be a primary focus to realistically meet new standards. Minerals like lithium, copper, silver and gold will all be needed, and Nevada has the right methodology and the right workforce to get the job done.

One way Nevada mining is moving forward with its own renewable energy efforts is working alongside stakeholders like The Nature Conservancy to utilize old mine sites—and even some active sites, to convert closed mines for solar generation and clean energy generation.

Power lines near mining sites also have the ability for reverse polarization and, in some cases, those power lines can be used to send energy in the opposite direction. This makes reclamation sites the ideal environment to install solar panels while not having to disturb new land.

These are just a couple of the ways in which the industry is helping to sustain future generations. From measures to preserve land to the reclamation of mine sites and conserving water, the Nevada mining industry is not what some attempt to paint it as.

For more information about the role mining plays in renewable energy, visit www.nevadamining.org/commitment. 

Tyre L. Gray is president of the Nevada Mining Association.

Tyre L. Gray is president of the Nevada Mining Association.

"It is our industry’s obligation to be aware of the present circumstances and continuously raise our standards to protect the land and our communities. Our industry is willing to address those challenges head on in order to mitigate harm and embrace the opportunity to create dialogue and find solutions." 

--Tyre Gray, Nevada Mining Association president

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