World Water Day: The path to zero emission mining
Copper miners Sandfire Resources and Anglo American, the International Copper Association Australia and the Global Copper Alliance have sponsored the Zero Emissions project. The project is ocused on six processes - Baseline water balance, Dewatering of mine sites, Desalination, Operational water use, Tailings and Recycling.
The United Nations has designated today March 22 as ‘World Water Day’, an opportunity to reflect on water sustainability and global development. Of course, copper has always played a central role in delivering clean water to people and industry.
The impact of water on Australia’s $10bn copper mining industry was stark during the 2017-2020 drought where production was disrupted by a lack of water at a number of the country’s copper production facilities. It is also an issue faced by many companies in other countries like Chile where water efficiency is crucial to keeping production on track.
The Technology Roadmap on the Zero Emission Copper Mine of the Future (ZECMotF) launched last year, will ultimately tackle five key themes to achieving cleaner, greener copper mining - water, material movement, minerals processing, discovery and ventilation.
The water ‘deep tech dive’ is already up and running. Working with miners, government, the private sector, startups, a range of expert research groups and the broader community, the project is expected to generate technology, environmental and cost benefits to Australian miners and businesses for years to come.
The project is run under an Executive Council through a Technical Management Committee, focusing on the ‘deep dive” through three separate Research Working Groups that are made up of topic experts from around the world. It is expected to report by mid-May 2021 and release to the industry in June.
Anglo American offers eDNA data to protect biodiversity
Anglo American is the first mining company to work with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and NatureMetrics by sharing its eDNA data to support the eBioAtlas programme; an initiative to combat extinction by using DNA technology to create a global atlas of the state of life in rivers and wetlands of world importance.
What is the eBioAtlas?
eBioAtlas is an ambitious partnership between NatureMetrics and IUCN to rapidly create a global atlas of life in the world’s largest river basins and wetlands using cutting-edge eDNA technology. It will provide a comprehensive picture of freshwater species in each location, mobilising local stakeholders and citizen scientists to fill in critical knowledge gaps to support conservation efforts and inform global policy to reverse the loss of biodiversity.
Anglo American is supporting the environment beyond life of mine
“eDNA analysis enhances the way we evaluate risk and meet – or even exceed – environmental regulations, track progress towards biodiversity targets, and reduce monitoring cost and efforts," said Anglo American's Biodiversity Principal, Warwick Mostert. "Anglo American strongly supports the eBioAtlas initiative and looks forward to working with its partners and collaborators to deliver this programme.
“When a mine is in full operation, it will become a key part of the ongoing monitoring and evaluation in terms of our biodiversity performance. When we start to get to the point where an operation is coming to closure, it will allow us to make sure the work has been done and we can meet our objective of restoring an environment to better than its pre-mining state.”
Who are NatureMetrics?
NatureMetrics is an award-winning technology start-up using cutting-edge genetic techniques to monitor biodiversity. We can uncover multiple species from complex environmental samples in low-cost and repeatable ways. By surveying everything from bats to bacteria, we help understanding of how to protect and build natural capital through activities such as farming, energy generation and forestry.