For a number of days now, our website’s most popular story by far has been about a trove of rare earth elements and trace metals in volcanic rock in Aroostook County (“Large deposit of rare elements and minerals discovered in northern Maine,” Nov. 27).

The identified materials are commonly used in the manufacture of batteries, magnets, semiconductor chips, lasers, you name it. One geologist quoted in reporter Penelope Overton’s story about Pennington Mountain valued the discovery in the billions of dollars. While elements like hafnium, dysprosium and yttrium aren’t exactly household names, readers were plenty opinionated about how the find should – or shouldn’t – be handled. Here are some of our favorite responses.

• “If there really are billions of dollars worth of rare minerals on Pennington Mountain, you can bet that there will be no stopping the mining of every square inch of this area by interested parties willing to pay the billions needed to access it. As usual, Mainers will benefit nothing from this discovery as these minerals are hauled away for fortunes to be made elsewhere. Too bad the people who discovered it didn’t have the wherewithal to keep it quiet instead of broadcasting it to the world.” – CannedHam

• “If and when these minerals are extracted, and I tend to believe eventually they will be for national security reasons, the State of Maine needs to enact laws and taxes to get a share of the revenue produced by their extraction. Maine has already missed the boat on the getting a share of the revenue produced by commercial ground water extraction. The future demand of these rare minerals will cause such a rise in their market price that clean extraction and taxation will still leave plenty of room for profit.” – realmainer

• “Untouched land is an endangered, priceless gem. Leave it alone.” – MsME

• “If we find a way to mine these elements in Maine, one of the requirements should be to build the refineries, factories and jobs HERE in Maine. I want to see us get more than a poisonous legacy of pollution, while the crucial product gets trucked down I-95 to a place where the jobs are created somewhere else. We should want a big slice of the pie of wealth that gets extracted here. And part of our slice should be jobs for Mainers. The whole pie should not go to job sites below (the) Mason-Dixon line.” – Bertie_Russell

• “Another excellent, nuanced article from Penelope Overton and the PPH on a complex issue. Not sure there’s any easy answer for the balance of national interests and local wilderness protection here, given the potential for long term damage to the environment if such a project goes pear shaped, but the article sets things out in a way that lets us readers ask better questions as voters and citizens.” – ScarboroDad

• “Like it or not, we need these minerals. That is the bottom line. If we don’t get them we continue to rely on fossil fuels which will end in more climate disasters. For now we have the luxury of resisting mining but the time will come when our need for these minerals is so desperate it won’t seem to matter if environmental harm occurs in procuring them. Better to allow mining with adequate supervision and precautions to prevent environmental harm than to wait until we are so desperate any consideration of harm is ignored. There could be a secondary effect of developing domestic mining and processing in a responsible way. We could require these minerals could only be sourced for domestic consumption from mining with proper safeguards. That might force foreign miners to comply with our domestic procedures if they wanted to sell into the U.S. market.” – theophiluser

• “Mining does contaminate ground water. The only answer is to consume less. Yes, LESS. Every time we disrupt the earth, carcinogens surface, the water and air is contaminated. Leave it where it is.” – Naturalist

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