Speaker: Mining industry not evil

Analyst urges image makeover

DENVER — Guess who the villain is in the popular movie, “Avatar?”

“It’s you, the mining industry,” Independence Institute president Jon Caldara told about 200 attendees of the 112th National Western Mining Conference in Denver on Tuesday.

“That was a movie about you evil people,” he said, using the blockbuster flick as an example of why the industry needs to improve its image. “That is how you are perceived.”

Caldara, the head of the Golden-based free-market think tank, was one of many speakers at the annual conference, which sported a theme this year playing off the Democratic Party’s push for renewable energy: “The New Energy Economy — It Starts with Mining.”

The three-day conference kicked off Tuesday and features such topics as “A Rational Look at Climate Change Concerns” and “Climate Change — The Science is not Settled.”

Caldara said the industry as a whole needs to show the public that many of the things it does are good for the nation, and it is not an industry aimed at raping the land. Even the minerals needed to build the “New Energy Economy” come from mining, he said.

“People don’t see what the industry does,” Caldara said. “Until you learn to promote yourself, you will continue to lose.”

Kimball Rasmussen, president and chief operating officer of Deseret Power in Utah, pooh-poohed findings released by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

To start, he criticized its baseline temperature, which was set in 1750 when the world was coming out of the “Little Ice Age.” Since 1998, world temperatures have steadily decreased, he said.

Rasmussen said coal burning worldwide accounts only for 0.07 degrees Celsius (about one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit) in heat pumped into the atmosphere over 100 years.

So, government efforts to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired plants is misguided, he said.

“We have literally cancerized our country with our energy policies,” he said.

Rasmussen said replacing coal with renewable energy isn’t feasible. The nation would have to build 600 massive solar-power stations each month for 10 years to produce the same amount of electricity the nation now gets from coal, and those plants would cost 30 times what it takes to build a coal-fired one, he said.

Other miners who spoke at the conference had some good news about their sections of the industry.

Bob Warneke, manufacturing director for Natural Soda Inc. in Rifle, said his company’s sodium bicarbonate mine is doing well and even plans to expand. Sodium bicarbonate is used in such things as antacids and baking soda.

George Glasier, president of Energy Fuels Resources Corp. in Nucla, is making progress in getting the nation’s first uranium mill in a quarter century up and running in western Colorado.

Like natural gas, the price for uranium has dropped dramatically in recent years, scaring many people out of the market, he said.

“But we’ll still see a need for uranium and a surge in the price,” said Glasier, who predicted his mill would receive state approval by early next year and begin production by 2012.


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