Going Green

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's About Balance

Balancing resource use is always tricky.

New Australia Mining Boom Taking Toll on Outback Life

Hope Hamashige
for National Geographic News
September 26, 2007

As manager of the Port Hedland visitor's center, Kelly Howlett's main responsibility these days is telling travelers to bring a tent if they plan to spend a night in the area.

"I feel awful when people walk in here," she said. "I have no choice but to tell them to get back on the road, because there's no place to stay."

Port Hedland, the biggest town in the region of Western Australia known as the Pilbara, is at the epicenter of a massive Australian mining boom. (See a map of the Pilbara region.)

The rush to extract minerals like copper, aluminum, iron, and gold to feed skyrocketing Asian demand has provided billions of dollars in revenue for mining companies, millions in royalties for the government, and a boom in high-paying jobs.

One of its unforeseen consequences, however, is that hotels and youth hostels are completely filled with the flood of mining company employees who work in nearby iron-ore pits.

The mining boom is also straining the industry's relations with the area's aboriginal inhabitants, raising questions ...(complete story here).

Demand across Asia is straining resource supplies globally. The strain is being felt especially in metals and energy. Asian countries certainly should have the same opportunities for growth and development that the developed world has experienced. The environmental, resource, and economic strain will ripple across the globe for years. Finding the right balance for various competing interests will be challenging.

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