Best Practices in Mining: Sustainability

Related topics: Best Practices
Sustainable mining is a responsible best practice of modern mining organizationsMining organizations are faced with balancing the location of ore deposits and environmental impact of obtaining them. Sustainability practices are designed to mitigate environmental and social impact during the normal course of work.

"Coal mining, particularly surface mining, requires large areas of land to be temporarily disturbed," says the World Coal Association. "This raises the number of environmental challenges, including soil erosion, dust, noise and water pollution, and impacts on local biodiversity." Mitigating the adverse impact on the environment is a challenge that extends to all types of resource extraction. Mines of all types are also faced with a potentially negative impact on social, safety, and political factors.

In recognition of these challenges, most mining companies are taking steps toward "sustainability," and many countries require a sustainability plan in order to maintain a license to operate. From Newmont Mining Corporation's mission statement, sustainable mining means taking steps toward environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and safety.

Sustainability Success Stories

Xstrata Coal's Westside mine concluded operations in 2012. Years before the closure, replanting and land reclamation efforts were already underway to develop a landscaped environment for the community to enjoy. Xstrata estimates the area will be completely reclaimed by 2035.

Watch the Westside Story Video...

Both GoldCorp and Vale contributed significant amounts of money to sustainable mining initiatives. From their 2013 sustainability reports, we find that GoldCorp spent $15 million on site reclamation to promote environmental sustainability, and Vale devoted $3 million to a global UN-backed anti-AIDS project to promote social sustainability.