Thursday, November 20, 2008

China covets what Colorado has, with implications for two Rocky Mountain towns

Mining has long been an important segment of the Colorado economy. Tourism, too, is a significant slice of the pie, though its history is as such is not as long. Now two towns, Leadville with a mining-based economy, and Crested Butte, 50 miles away with a tourism-based economy, have different views on the prospect of molybdenum mining in their communities. The reason for the possible revival of mining in Leadville (population 2,821) and a new mine in Crested Butte (population 1,529) is China's increasing demand for this exceptionally strong, hard metal. China needs the molybdenum for--among other uses--the construction of a hundred new nuclear reactors.

Public Radio International's "The World" program did a wonderful segment today on the two communities' different attitudes toward mining, attitudes that evince very different views of their respective economic livelihoods. I suspect that Crested Butte's is significantly influenced by gentrification, Leadville's less so. Listen to the PRI story here, and take in the accompanying audio slide show here.

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