16 Feb Sustainability in the Mining Industry
As technology continues to evolve, new trends toward more sustainable ways of working are taking place. But while electric cars are booming and saving gallons of gas and oil, their batteries and components are made of rare metals. Lithium, copper and cobalt, rare metals that all are found through mining. Consequently, the mining industry has evolved to provide those rare metals while being sustainable. New stakes and challenges are pushing the industry to innovate on all fronts.
On February 29th, 2020, 150 leaders in the mineral industry came together at the annual Sustainability Forum. The goal was to discuss the stakes of the industry and establish concrete directions towards change. Learn more about the action plan proposed where two major directions were established:
Technology must be a central part of the solution
Technology advancements allow companies to save on time and energy. But also to work more efficiently while reducing their carbon footprint. The digitalization of data collection, the automation of parts of the mining process, and the usage of sustainable energy for mines are opportunities of innovation.
A great example occurred in Mexico, with a mining company installing a rope conveyer to transport ore down the mountain instead of using diesel-fueled trucks. This reduced usage of trucks lowers carbon emissions and improves the safety of workers. It even created a source of energy, derived from the friction of the cable. This new source of energy was used to power the plant.
As another example we can mention water, which is a scarce but essential resource in mining operations. Technological advancements in the desalination of sea water now allow mining companies to use sea water instead of fresh ground water. In Chile, mining companies installed desalinisation plants all along the coast to supply their operations.
Community involvement must be present at all times
The mining industry cannot change by itself; it must consider local communities as strategic partners if it wants to be a key player in ecological and socioeconomical development. Governments, local communities, landowners, the forest industry, First Nations and Environmental NGOs must be part of the process of developing new standards for the industry.
Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM), a Canadian initiative launched in 2004 by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), has defined standards for mining companies. Their goal aimed improving environmental and social responsibility in the industry. TSM obliges its member companies to establish a stakeholder advisory panel that will allow for transparency and openness with local communities and a sense of teamworking. This initiative puts Canada forward as a leader in the industry, with other countries taking it as an example of standards to establish. TSM is now present in five other countries: Finland, Argentina, Botswana, the Philippines and Spain.
In conclusion, as the world continues to change, innovate and create, the mining industry is not left behind. Nomadis is proud to be a part of this movement on digitalization; allowing more sustainable practices. Our automated scheduling and reporting platform for remote travel enables our clients to optimize their assets across their logistics chain. Optimal utilization translates into a positive environmental impact, lowering air travel emissions and the footprint of operating a remote camp. Sustainability can be achieved in the mining industry with the input of each stakeholder.