By William (Bill) Howald, CEO of Rye Patch Gold Corp.
...There are always those in the crowd that don’t really think about, first, how the USA became a first world country because of its vast mineral wealth, or second, how their everyday life depends on the metals and minerals mined.
Sometimes, even families that make their living from the minerals industry don’t really understand. Once I was at a cocktail party talking with some young engineers, geologists and their spouses, when one spouse asked curiously, “Why are the mines so far from town or some nice place?” Obviously, living in a small mining town outside of mainstream America required some adjustment for their family.
The answer is mines are found where the deposits are, and usually they are in really remote places!
When we go to the grocery store and search the produce section for apples or zucchini, we have no problem understanding that those fruits and vegetables come from a farm or garden, and the farmer had to plant, tend, pick and transport the produce to the store. But when you look at your car, bicycle, wedding ring, medicine or toaster, do you have the same sense of its origins? When a younger person is asked where copper pipe comes from, many will say “the hardware store”, while the correct answer is from a mine.
Recently, I read an article that presented a unique way to view the Periodic Table in terms of usage in our everyday life. The article was written by the former Nevada State Geologist at the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and current Geological Society of Nevada president, Jonathan G. Price*.
That’s right, the Periodic Table -- the order of chemical elements organized on the basis of their atomic number and electron configurations with similar chemical properties. Elements are presented in order of increasing atomic number (number of protons in the nucleus), which is typically listed with the chemical symbol in each box. It’s that chart you were required to memorize in high school chemistry class. The unique aspect of the way this table is presented is that every element is shown with a color code indicating how it is used in our everyday life. The colors represent categories which include energy, transport, health, information, building and of course money.
I hope you will ponder the chart and be amazed at how modern society and the advantage of being a first-world country keeps us on the leading edge of innovation in the energy, health, and information technologies. All brought to you by mining the basic materials needed to create these products. So next time you are at the hardware store, remember, if it’s not grown, it must be mined!
The periodic table of the naturally occurring elements illustrating major uses.
Energy (Orange) -- production, transmission, and storage of energy, as well as lighting.
Health (Green) -- elements necessary for life (food & pharmaceuticals) and for the growing of crops (fertilizers and pesticides).
Buildings (Light Blue) -- materials needed for structures and their general contents and the tools needed to construct them.
Transportation (Dark Blue) -- vehicles and infrastructure, including moving water and wastewater.
Information (Purple) -- communication systems, electronics, and optics.
Money (Yellow) -- items that are held as a backing of currencies or to substitute for money, plus jewelry and the arts.
*Used with permission
Price, J.G., 2013, The challenges of mineral resources for society, in Bickford, M.E., ed., The Impact of the Geological Sciences on Society: Geological Society of America Special Paper 501, p. 1–19, doi:10.1130/2013.2501(01).
Editor’s note: William (Bill) Howald is the co-founder of Rye Patch Gold Corp, a TSX listed company. Prior to joining Rye Patch, he was General Manager of Exploration, United States and Latin America, for Placer Dome Inc. During his tenure at Placer Dome, Mr. Howald was an integral part of the teams that delivered over 100Mozs of gold resources to the Placer portfolio. A number of these resources are now being mined or are at the feasibility stage and heading for a production decision. Mr. Howald was born on the “Richest Hill on Earth” and has 30 years in the international gold exploration and mining industry gained primarily in Nevada, Mexico, and Central and South America.
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