Guest Op-Ed: Mining industry lives up to Idaho’s values

Guest Op-Ed: Mining industry lives up to Idaho’s values

Published on September 13, 2020


The following op-ed was written by Benjamin Davenport, Vice President of Operations at the Idaho Mining Association, and originally published in the Post Register on September 10.

If you want to know Idaho’s true values, look to our state seal. It embodies the very best of our state. Two figures stand alongside a bountiful harvest and a river, one depicting a miner and the other representing equality, liberty and justice.

They stand together in partnership: Our state’s vast resources can provide for all of us if they’re managed responsibly and we work together.

As a native Idahoan, I’ve always taken this responsibility to heart. I was raised to preserve our lands and provide for our families. I think about these principles while I’m at work, while I’m hunting, and each night when I’m home with my wife and three boys.

In the seal, there is no us versus them. There is simply unity. Unfortunately, this spirit of collaboration is seeming harder to find in so many aspects of our lives — natural resources included.

That is why I am speaking up. Some organizations in Idaho want you to believe miners are here to gain profit and leave our lands polluted. They claim miners have no regard for our lands, people or communities.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, pushing this narrative is an insult to the thousands of miners who work, live and play here.

I have gotten to know mining professionals throughout Idaho. I can tell you with certainty that they love Idaho’s lands and understand the huge responsibility riding on their shoulders.

The women and men in Idaho’s mining industry carry personal and legal responsibilities to be stewards of our lands. We prioritize safety and pioneer sustainable practices. With phosphate, we enable farmers to fill our tables. We produce gold and silver that make everything from pacemakers to cell phones. We provide economic diversity and balance to our communities. We provide upfront financial assurance to guarantee mined lands are returned to productive uses after mining.

Whether you are a miner, scientist designing restoration plans or a consumer who drives a car, uses a computer, brushes your teeth with toothpaste or installs solar panels on your roof, we are all part of the mining industry and depend on mineral resources. We have a responsibility to work together to access these minerals while protecting Idaho’s lands and resources.

Mining has changed over the decades. Today’s professionals lean on science and are better equipped to reduce impacts on our lands and rivers. Today’s industry is accountable to environmental regulations. Mining companies in the U.S. must meet some of the strictest regulations in the world and set aside the funds necessary to fully reclaim a site before any work begins to ensure our lands are always protected. We will not, and cannot, walk away from mining sites.

Miners realize there is no us versus them in our state seal — there is only we. We must work together to provide our nation with the resources we need and protect our lands. And we will continue doing our part to keep Idaho, and her resources, perpetual.

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