10 January, 2023

Sustainability in the Mining Industry

The mining industry is crucial because it provides all the materials required to shift to a greener economy, from battery technology to solar cells, construction material for dams and hydropower, etc. However, mining can also have significant unfavourable impacts on local and global ecosystems, population, and society, including production of toxic waste, release of acid mine drainage and destruction of native plant and animal species. Environmental impacts tend to occur at every stage of the process, from exploration, construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning. Furthermore, mining can often lead to displacement of population, deforestation, erosion, contamination, and alteration of soil profiles due to changes in land use. With that said, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that the effects are limited through responsible mining activities. To elevate and support mining operators’ sustainability targets and achievements, there is an increase in drive from stakeholders to limit negative environmental and societal impacts through responsible mining activities.

Responsible mining has the potential to uplift communities and support a more sustainable future. Hence, targeted action must be taken by companies within the sector to minimize their negative effects on the environment and ensure they have a positive impact on local communities.

Areas to consider include:

  1. To maximise value and minimise waste:

A two-pronged approach would have to be taken to reduce the inputs (such as using alternative energy sources that don’t rely on fossil fuels) and reducing the outputs (such as reusing mine waste and by-products, and minimising water consumption), thereby maximising the overall efficiency of the process [1].

  1. Strive to improve the carbon footprint:

Besides increasing the efficiency of a mine, companies should also strive to achieve a positive reduction in carbon footprint, through techniques such as electrification of their mobile fleet, optimised extraction methods and increasing remote operations [1].

  1. To support surrounding communities in responsibly reclaiming mining sites:

A mine can present significant threats to the surrounding communities and environment even after closure, and proper site planning and responsible decommissioning can minimise the threats that are present. Additionally, the infrastructure deployed to power the mine can be subsequently left to be used by the surrounding communities for transport, power generation and transmission [1].

AIE CONTRIBUTION

Many approaches can be taken to make this industry more sustainable, and one of AIE’s primary missions is to facilitate the implementation of such programs.

Sustainability Consulting

Responsible mining is made even simpler with the help of AIE’s sustainability services, such as Environmental Impact Assessments that provide the means to set practical and effective measures to eliminate, control and mitigate environmental impacts. We also conduct Feasibility Studies to determine the business, financial and environmental impacts of a new project or modifications to an existing mine.

Software Solutions

AIE uses an integrity management software: Veracity, that consists of different modules, particularly: Chemical Corrosion Management (CCM), Pipeline, Anomaly, Risk Based Inspection (RBI), Wells, Inspection and Environmental Management Systems (EMS) Modules. One of the most important tools for assessing and minimizing environmental impact of mining activities is an Environmental Management Software (EMS).

AIE’s proprietary environmental management software, Veracity EMS, can be configured to incorporate all environmental Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that need to be monitored, including air quality, water (Sewage, Tailings, Underground, Surface, Discharge) quality, noise levels, dust levels, energy usage, waste generated, etc. To ensure that certain KPIs are consistently met within acceptable range of values, these KPIs can also be configured with thresholds. Through meticulous recording and reporting of environmental data, key business decisions can be taken through identifying the most crucial areas of improvement.

Our services can be employed at any stage of a mine’s lifecycle, and we strive to do our part to achieve the common goal of a better future for us all.

To know more about Veracity EMS, please click here.

To know more about our other sustainability services, please click here.

REFERENCES

[1]        https://www.mining-technology.com/analysis/responsible-mining-esg/

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