The vilification of mining is a frequent occurrence. It is not uncommon to hear on the news or in general conversation that all the evils of the world can be blamed on mining. Cinema often portrays the mining industry as the ‘boogey man’ in film.
I can’t deny that mining has a checkered past. Some really bad things have happened at mines or because of mines, but current regulations have made mining a much safer place. Other industries have similar histories of taking advantage of people or the land. Why does mining seem to take the brunt of the negative publicity?
Many industries have used public advertising to promote their products as a whole. You have heard these slogans before:
The incredible, edible egg.
Milk, it does a body good.
Beef, it’s what’s for dinner.
Pork, the other white meat.
Large industries don’t just use advertising to promote their products either. Recently, there have been a number of television commercials defending high fructose corn syrup. I didn’t even know there was anything wrong with corn syrup, but here they are defending their product. Why can’t mining be the same? Why must we always be the bad guy?
I do think that national advertisements to defend the industry would be a good idea. I think a better idea would be to participate in more social activities and be aware of what is happening in the media before it makes it to the front page.
When John Grisham’s novel The Runaway Jury came out it had the tobacco industry as the villain. When the book became a full length motion picture the villain suddenly changed to the small arms industry. I don’t think this happened by mistake. Why can’t we change social opinion the same way?
The entire mining industry needs to change its image from the ‘bad guy’ persona that it has had for so long and become the industry it really is. Public opinion of mining should be that it is the source of the steel that is used to build cars, the copper that brings power and the coal that brings affordable electricity to the computer that is sitting on their desk.