The following exchange between Hal Barker, a Nevada insurance dealer, and freelance investigator J. Dollar reveals some important truths about technological advances restoring old hard-rock mines to profitable ventures.
Barker: “Thanks to modern methods, modern tools of the trade, so to speak, Walter Bisbee and his partner did fairly well, Dollar. They’d explore these old abandoned mines around here, supposedly already worked out, and they’d locate new ore strata that would pay off….like I say, with modern, efficient recovery methods that weren’t even known about during the Gold Rush days.”
Dollar: “Yeah, like the big petroleum companies that found ways to get more oil out of wells the old-timers thought were pumped dry.”
So true. Gold mines are being reborn, as this 2004 report from Melbourne, Australia states: “Advanced technology is transforming the search for gold in Victoria’s mining region making the prospect of a second gold rush imminent, according to some of the state’s leading gold mining companies.”
As for oil, waterflooding has proved effective in reviving wells previously thought exhausted. As the late economist, Julian Simon, observed — and put his money down on in a bet with neo-Malthusian Paul Ehrlich — human ingenuity and technology are powerful forces that in the long run will bring down the price of natural resources.
Oh yes, and that exchange between Barker and Dollar? From the CBS radio serial, “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar,” the October 2, 1960 episode, “The Stope of Death Matter.” We wonder: Did Julian Simon have an action-packed expense account?
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