In the dream world, the local resources would be available for the local people to use to earn a living. I proceed with this essay on the assumption that resources would be accessible…
Arizona is not a self sustaining entity yet has resources. These resources are of the mineral persuasion, with considerable investment in exploiting these resources already ongoing. A large smelter comes to mind and I ask what are the byproducts of that smelter? I know that one byproduct is heat, which could be tapped for other uses if one studied upon it. Heat to boil water to make steam which could run electric generators, for instance. Heat to warm greenhouses to produce food. Hot water and heating for a settlement. Warm water to grow prawns and catfish. The list could go on.
A smelter uses a huge amount of energy. This is energy that could be used, rather than just blown off into the atmosphere. As of now, copper is smelted, trucked, trained and trucked to another site so it can be melted again and made into something else. In an era of cheap energy, this system was cost effective, but now money could be saved by making copper products without transporting and remelting. This change would save energy overall but would change the locale of production and the pattern of distribution. The possibility of products comes to mind when considering smelter byproducts and the raw copper and silica. Is melted silica part of the smelting process? Is this low phosphorous silica that could be used along with copper to make photovoltaic cells? This already melted copper is a treasure just waiting to be tapped by local businesses. How about some government interest in preserving our copper resources so the locals can make a living for a long time using them. Maybe we want to make copper items to sell.
What I am saying here is that an economy based on copper and copper smelting related byproducts could last a long time here in local Arizona if they would stop hauling truckloads of pure copper ingots someplace else for somebody else to make money on it. I think our copper is being removed from the ground way too fast. But Wow! Us local yokels get jobs for about twenty years, our resources are stripped out and our grandchildren sink into poverty or must leave because nothing is left to make goods to sell and trade for the things we need, like food.
Smelting is not what it used to be, which was dirty and sickly. New technologies have controlled sulfur emissions and produced useful byproducts. We need the most advanced technology, research for possible uses for sulfur and other byproducts, a survey of other available minerals and an infusion of investment into alternative ways to use our copper resources. We need politicians who understand what local sustainability really means to the people out there making a living.
We need to preserve our resources.