Mario Ramirez, MASc Mining Engineering // April 26, 2015
Sustainable mining as it is addressed today should probably need to be re-defined or renamed since mining cannot be sustainable itself because the minerals that are extracted are finite and will be exhausted at some point in time. However, the strategies, programs, and projects that the mining industry takes in regards to communities, ecosystems, and some mining processes can be called “sustainable” and lead to “sustainability”.
Sustainable development is a broad topic used not only in mining but in other public and private sectors. The concept of sustainability covers how human activities impact the economic development of an area or region, also covers the environmental activities and social well-being of the people and ecosystem affected by production projects. This concept can be the differentiating point between the success or failure of a project. The basic but very important requirements for sustainable development can be summarized in the 4M concept:
1. Minimize energy Waste
2. Minimize materials utilization
3. Minimize environmental impact
4. Maximize Social satisfaction and engagement.
During some of my readings, I came across a set of handbooks developed by the Australian government through the department of Industry and Science. These handbooks are widely known as the “Leading Practice Sustainable Development Program for the Mining Industry” and are another aid for companies and regulatory agencies to learn and put in action sustainable practices. Each handbook provides case studies of both positive and negative consequences and actions taken by different companies and how those actions have benefited or in some cases affected the performance and reputation of a mine project.
Sharing the knowledge found on those handbooks, I believe, is very important not only for developed countries but especially for those societies where mining is a new industry. Using this information will allow national agencies, communities and companies develop their own strategies based on others experiences.
I leave you the link below to find more about this amazing treasure of knowledge:
http://www.industry.gov.au/ resource/Programs/LPSD/Pages/ LPSDhandbooks.aspx