While the United States is gunning towards a precipitative shift to green energy, climate change is curtailing one of the most important resources for mining the necessary minerals for the shift: water.
In regions where mining is in full swing, experts worry that there won’t be enough groundwater to support both mining operations, as well as the water requirements of households in the surrounding vicinity. In the state of Arizona, for example, officials were forced to stop giving permits for the construction of new residential areas in the area around Phoenix as groundwater supplies in the area are dwindling and a major mining firm, Resolution Copper, plans to siphon much of the available resource for its operations.
While the people behind Resolution and other mines claim that the technologies they have in use are meant to use less water for mineral extraction, both environmental researchers and local indigenous groups pointed out the adverse effects their operations have had on the available supply in local aquifers, as well as the overall safety and quality of groundwater.
This grim truth has been confirmed by Resolution itself as they explained how several billion gallons of water are necessary to mine copper from locations up to 6,800 feet underground.
Many of those who have spoken against the rather profligate way the mining sector uses water claim that Arizona, as well as other states where mining minerals for the renewable power sector is in full swing, need to double-down on related regulations, especially in light of rapidly decreasing natural water supplies. Indeed, as Washburn University School of Law professor Burke Griggs puts it, the stakes in this situation are incredibly high as there is no way to replace any groundwater wasted in the mining process.