Article | 1972

Rock Bottom: Nearing the Limits of Metal Mining in Britain

By Amory Lovins

While serving as the British representative for Friends of the Earth, Amory Lovins wrote this letter to Lord Zuckerman, Chairman of Britain’s Independent Commission on Mining and the Environment. In this reprint published by The Ecologist, Lovins argues that elegant resource frugality stands as a more logical, sensible and natural process of energy use than unchecked mining development. He argues that the use of mined resources is subject to limits set by diminishing social returns. He writes that as mining decreasingly rich ores becomes increasingly common and damaging, we become steadily more doubtful that public policy can justify further large-scale mining to support an economic growth that is not essential to, and is indeed often antagonistic to, growth in well-being. The sensible alternative, which has not been examined seriously enough, is to use less profigately what we have already mined, and to devote as much effort to closing resource loops as we now devote to keeping them open.