From the April/May 2016 edition of the Pick & Shovel Gazette
By Brad Jones
Miners often worry and complain that their freedoms to prospect, mine and metal detect are eroding at an alarming rate, and I’m often asked: “What can we do about it?”
One way to fight the continuous barrage of anti-mining legislation is, of course, to support mining rights groups, such as Public Lands for the People and the American Mining Rights Association. Another way is to write not only Congress but the candidates who are running in both the Democrat and Republican primaries to raise awareness about the benefits of domestic mining—not only to create more jobs and boost our economy but to protect your freedoms to continue prospecting for precious metals, gems and lost treasure.
Today’s politicians can be categorized into what I call the Three Ps: Principled, Pragmatists and Populists. But, the three Ps that are missing are Planks in their Political Platforms. They offer very little in the way of substance. Though you can find more specifics on the candidates’ websites, you will find little, if anything, on the issues prospectors and miners face.
Rarely do the benefits of domestic mining surface in campaign speeches, news conferences, town hall meetings, rallies and debates. As voters, we hear emotionally charged rhetoric on issues that I dare not even mention in this editorial for fear of becoming a lightning rod for the anger on both sides of the political arena. And, then there are the silly distractions and media sideshows which, once again, I will refrain from listing.
As the managing editor of the Gold Prospectors Association of America publications, which promote responsible prospecting and small-scale mining, I follow politics closely. It’s part of my responsibility to know how
political agendas and proposed legislation will affect you as a member. And, I can say unequivocally—without mentioning the candidates by name—that other than some bragging about the destruction of the coal mining industry and others slamming the overreach of the Bureau of Land Management and Environmental Protection Agency, there is hardly any talk about expanding mining as an industry or keeping public lands in the western states open to prospecting. And yet, with a $21 trillion national debt, as a country there is no doubt we will need to revive domestic mining to create wealth and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Mining to supply the raw materials needed for reconstruction—and even “sustainable growth,” to use the environmental buzzwords—is absolutely key.
As prospectors and miners, now is the time to rally and make our voices heard in Washington, state legislatures and on the campaign trail. No matter what your political views, it’s time to unite and fight from both sides. That’s the beauty of representative democracy in a constitutional republic that guarantees free speech.
Make no mistake—mining rights have been systematically eroded by all levels of government and both political parties with the help of radical the environmental groups and lobbyists. Many of you have done your best to educate your friends, family and communities about the merits of prospecting and mining, and I respect and applaud your efforts. Still, I know we can do more to make our voices heard.
Mining does matter!