The experiences enjoyed and memories made from Thanksgiving through New Years are why we call it the “most wonderful time of the year.” While it’s people that drive this spirit of togetherness, we rely on a variety of technologies for our most treasured traditions. From traveling to see loved ones and eating comfort food to exchanging gifts beneath twinkling holiday lights, it’s all possible thanks to mining.
As we celebrate the holiday season, I am grateful for all the ways mining makes our lives brighter and I look forward to fervently advocating for policies that strengthen the domestic industry and our position as a global mining leader.
Traveling to Loved Ones
Connecting with family and friends is a pillar of the holidays. This year, some 122 million Americans are predicted to travel for the holidays, and the various means of transport they take are all possible thanks to mined materials.
The planes, trains and buses people take to see loved ones require wires made of molybdenum for its sturdiness under difficult conditions; lightweight and tough landing gear parts and GPS technology made of beryllium; and bodies of buses made up of large amounts of steel created with iron and metallurgical coal.
Americans driving traditional combustion engine cars to see family can thank copper and nickel used in wiring, steel, magnetite and hematite used in the car’s body, and lead used in its battery. Those traveling in electric vehicles this season require an additional set of minerals to build the special lithium-ion batteries used in EVs, including silver, copper, lithium, graphite, aluminum, nickel and cobalt.
Comforting Dishes Around the Table
Throughout your visit, it’s the comfort foods—made with love at home or at your favorite local restaurant—that fill us with memories and a sense of belonging. In fact, a study highlighted by Smithsonian Magazine noted just that. Your refrigerator, made of aluminum, copper, iron, nickel and zinc, keeps groceries cool until you’re ready to begin cooking. The range that you use to sauté brussels sprouts, boil potatoes and roast your turkey is made of aluminum, copper, iron, nickel and silica. And your microwave – made of copper, gold, iron, nickel and silica -will be there the next day to reheat leftovers.
A Season of Giving
November and December are peak months for both retail shopping and charitable donations. Why? Because holidays are the season of giving, and mining makes a lot of the gifts we give possible.
Many of the most popular and practical gifts in the last few years have been tech gifts. Most smartphones, tablets and computers require a unique combination of minerals to display beautiful colors, deliver information or operate wirelessly. Gold is used in connector wires, switches and relay contacts, graphite is used in batteries, bauxite is used for screen backlighting, molybdenum is used to produce semiconductors found in cellphones, and copper is used to conduct electricity and heat. In a typical computer, you’ll find 66 unique minerals used in the monitor, keyboard, circuit boards, computer chips and more.
Keeping the Twinkling Lights On
As winter arrives and the temperature dips, a warm home is one of the most important features of the holiday season. This year, coal was invaluable to ensuring affordable, reliable baseload power when other fuel sources couldn’t meet our needs. Simply put, coal will keep the lights on, not only during this holiday season, but also throughout the entire year.
And during the holidays, we have extra lights to account for. The season just wouldn’t feel the same without the colorful, bright decorations lining trees, windowsills and homes. Festive lights are made up of an array of minerals including everything from the copper wiring that carries the electricity, to the cobalt oxide, sulfur and cadmium sulfide that give lights their bright hues.
NMA Continues to Advocate for a Stronger U.S. Mining Industry
This year, the National Mining Association fought hard on Capitol Hill for policies that will benefit the U.S. mining industry. The NMA is incredibly thankful for its members who make that our advocacy as effective as possible. As we wrap-up 2021 and enter the new year, we will continue our work to support a strong domestic mining industry.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the National Mining Association.