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How increasing demand for copper can threaten the environment




The mine at Oyu Tolgoi, Turquoise Hill in Mongolian, will be one of the world's largest copper mines in about five years. An employee holds up a small sample of the oxidized copper that gave the mine its name.
The mine at Oyu Tolgoi, Turquoise Hill in Mongolian, will be one of the world's largest copper mines in about five years. An employee holds up a small sample of the oxidized copper that gave the mine its name.
John W. Poole

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Americans hear a lot about green alternatives to traditional and polluting energy sources like oil and coil. One of these traditional resources that is essential to modern society yet goes mostly unnoticed is copper.

Demand for the element has skyrocketed over the past decade, and extracting it from the earth is not an easy or clean process. With more on this unsung issue is Tim Heffernan, who wrote about the issues in the most recent issue of Pacific Standard magazine.