Mining can be of great use in the promotion of green initiatives. Mining is important in finding rare earth metals necessary for refining petroleum, reducing energy use and producing environmentally-friendly vehicles. These metals are widely used in gadgets and consumer goods, specially in a new breed of technology and products branded as clean and green.
For example, the rare earth neodymium is an important element in the electric motor of the Toyota Prius. In addition, each battery required in the Prius uses lanthanum, another type of rare earth. As demand for items and equipment like Prius drastically escalates, a shortage of 40,000-tonne per year of this type of metals is expected by 2015.
There are plans to resume the extraction and refinery of thousands of tons of rare earth in the United States. The open-pit mine in Mountain Pass, CA has been proven to contain the world’s richest reserve of rare earth metals. It is an undertaking intended to replace China, the leading rare earth producer, which is currently reducing its exports of the products due to increasing local demand for it.