6 Sustainable Initiatives You Need to Implement in Your Mining Operations
Aside from profit margins and safety records, the key theme in the mining industry is sustainable initiatives. Not only are they vital to surrounding communities in which companies operate but they’re vital for the prosperity of the world.
We’ve taken some of the best practices across the mining spectrum and compiled a list of the most important initiatives mining companies should begin implementing immediately.
1. Community inspired programs
One of the best objectives mining companies can accomplish for surrounding areas is building community inspired programs. These community development programs can have a wider impact on the societies they operate in, beyond the jobs and investments that they bring to communities.
According to the World Gold Council, “these programs should be designed to meet local needs and priorities, and include investments in sectors including education, entrepreneurship and healthcare.”
For example, Newmont Mining Corporation is working in cooperation with the national Ministry of People’s Housing to build and improve houses for low income communities in the West Sumbawa Regency region of Indonesia.
Anglo American is another prime example. The mining company has launched a slew of initiatives and programs aimed at instilling meaningful community programs and training in areas in which they operate in.
2. Renewable energy resources
Renewable energy has become a hot topic in the mining industry with several companies jumping taking the bull by the horns and implementing an array of new initiatives. One of those companies is Harmony Gold.
The South African mining company has started building two solar park facilities at one of its operations, helping the company alleviate pressure on peak energy usage.
In addition, Harmony Gold is using mine-impact land and tailings to pilot biocrop procreating in the form of giant king grass and sugar beet. The initiative is helping the company use biocrops as feedstock to generate natural gas as a fossil fuel substitute.
3. Seek continual improvement
The International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) has outlined the top 10 principles mining companies should implement in their operations. Number five and seek on the list seek continual improvement on health and safety performance and environmental performance.
According to the ICMM:
• Implement a management system focused on continual improvement of all aspects of operations that could have a significant impact on the health and safety of our own employees, those of contractors and the communities where we operate.
• Assess the positive and negative, the direct and indirect, and the cumulative environmental impacts of new projects – from exploration through closure.
• Implement an environmental management system focused on continual improvement to review, prevent, mitigate or ameliorate adverse environmental impacts.
4. Be transparent
One of the biggest keys to responsible mining is transparency. Not only is it imperative for sustainable development and forming a balanced social contract, but trust needs to be created between the mining company and the community for success.
Tips for addressing transparency in the metals and mining sector are:
• Report on corporate sustainability performance in a standardized way is an essential piece of the transparency puzzle.
• Be responsible for directly disclosing information about operations to customers and surrounding communities.
• Provide responsible sourcing schemes to help define what it means to manage the supply of a given material or product. Take into account the relevant environmental and social benefits and impacts.
5. Uphold fundamental human rights
This initiative should be the foundation for every mining company operating in the world. Respect for human rights is a key aspect of sustainable development and it’s one of the biggest principles adopted by organizations like the ICMM and World Gold Council.
“Respect for local societies and human rights are of particular importance for responsible gold-mining companies,” according to the World Gold Council. “Many companies undertake their own social responsibility programs, as well as sign up to international standards such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.”
6. Reclamation innovations
Mine site closure and reclamation is a vital element of mining. Not only does it requires an immense amount of planning, designing and implementation, but it requires transitioning mine operations to post mining and then planning for the socio-economic challenges that may lie ahead.
At Goldcorp’s former San Martin mine in Honduras, the company has turned what used to be a mining camp into a 31-room ecology center with an eco-tourism themed hotel with a restaurant, swimming pool and other amenities.
Anglo American has created the Mine Closure Toolbox (MCT) program, a detailed initiative for ensuring the company leaves a positive and sustainable legacy for all its host communities after operations have ended.
Global iron ore production to recover by 5.1% in 2021
Global iron ore production fell by 3% to 2.2bnt in 2020. Global production is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7% to 2,663.4Mt between 2021 to 2025. The key contributors to this grow will be Brazil (6.2%), South Africa (4.1%), Australia (3.2%) and India (2.9%). Key upcoming projects expected to commence operations include South Flank in Australia (2021), Zulti in South Africa (H2 2021), Serrote Da Laje in Brazil (H2 2021) and Gudai-Darri (2022), according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: “Declines from Brazil and India were major contributors to the reduced output in 2020. Combined production from these two countries fell from a collective 638.2Mt in 2019 to an estimated 591.1Mt in 2020. The reduced output from the iron ore giant, Vale, was the key factor behind Brazil’s reduced output, while delays in the auctioning of mines in Odisha affected India’s output in 2020.
“Miners in Australia were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 due to effective measures adopted by the Australian Government, while a speedy recovery in China led to a significant 10.4% increase in the country’s iron ore output.”
Looking ahead, the global iron ore production is expected to increase by 111.3Mt to 2,302.5Mt in 2021. Rio Tinto is expected to produce up to 340Mt of iron ore, while BHP has released production guidance of 245–255Mt, supported by the start of the Samarco project in December, which is expected to produce between 1–2Mt.The company has retained its guidance for Australian mines at 276–286Mt on a 100% basis, due to scheduled maintenance work at its ore handling plant and tie-in activity at the Area C mine and South-Flank mine.
Bajaj added: “The remaining companies are expected to produce more than 600Mt of iron ore, including FMG, whose production is expected to range between 175–180Mt supported by its Eliwana mine that commenced operations in late December 2020, and Anglo American, which is expecting to produce between 64–67Mt. Vale is expected to resume 40Mt of its production capacity, taking its overall production capacity to 350Mt in 2021, with production guidance of 315-335Mt.”