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24 September 2019

Building a sustainable future begins with environmentally conscious mining practices that work together to achieve the 169 targets laid out in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in hopes to steer global efforts around social, economic and environmental change. The plan details a collective ambition toward building an inclusive, sustainable future for our communities and has helped guide efforts to impact communities we serve in a positive way.

Since then, we have implemented strategies to decrease rates of poverty in local communities, improve our carbon-neutral operations, and even developed plans to achieve a waterless mine. Governmental and non-governmental sustainable development policies have become instrumental in our push to protect the environment.

Innovation through sustainable technology

Sustainable technology can reduce the environmental effects of mining operations. Some of the top effects of mining on the environment can be lessened by:

  • Hybrid diesel-electric loaders
  • Smart digitisation
  • Machine learning
  • Automated vehicles
  • Robotic drilling operations
  • Moles or tunnel-boring systems (TBM)
  • Underground electrification and infrastructure

Mining and developmental sustainability

Using sustainable practices in our modern mines helps minimise wastewater, free up room to try ozone-based treatments on mine waste, and explore new ways to extract metals. Here’s how new mine development is integrating sustainability for the better:

1. Water Usage

Miners use water to process minerals, suppress dust and transport slurry pipelines to destination sites. The more mines can use clean water consistently and reliably, the more sustainable they’ll be.

New mining discharge regulations have led to opportunities like membrane aerated biofilm reactor (MABR) wastewater treatments. MABR and other efforts will not only increase efficiency but also lower maintenance or operational cost across the global supply chain.

2. Energy Efficiency

One way to reduce fuel consumption is by combining in-pit crushing and conveying (IPCC) with ore sorting. This operation will cut energy consumption in mills by discarding waste rock. In the end, efficiency is the best hedge against changing energy costs in our economy.

Another method to efficiently preserve energy is through comminution, is a pretreatment method that reduces solid material into small particles. In 2018, the Coalition for Energy Efficient Comminution (CEEC) stated that this process uses at least 3% of total global electricity production.

3. Adapting To Climate Change Goals

The mining industry can ease the strain of climate change on local communities when action is taken to integrate sustainable technology. This adaptation is critical to both our business and the areas we serve. Whether at Mogalakwena in South Africa or Barro Alto in Brazil, here’s how we’re helping to achieve the SDG’s:

  1. Integrate climate change policies and resource supply strategies
  2. Contribute to climate change sources and research development
  3. Use climate projections to encourage design and operative locations
  4. Establish supportive institutions or groups to raise further awareness

To learn more about how sustainable development is shaping our work, check out these articles:
Sustainable Mining Plan
Our Blueprint for the Future of Sustainable Mining

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