(GMT +2)
Mining News
Creating a virtuous cycle for mining
09 June 2017
Creating a virtuous cycle for mining

Mining may not dominate the economic landscape as it once did, still it remains a tremendously significant player. The mining industry accounts for 20% of all investment in the country and generates R 441 billion in expenditure annually, of which R 407 billion is spent locally. Despite its importance, the mining sector is facing severe pressure on various fronts, including costs, environmental liability, ant the lack of a cohesive strategy in terms of minerals demanded by the future green economy. Converting these challenges into opportunities is the theme of the Sustainability and Mining Seminar at Sustainability Week 2017, taking place 14 June at the CSIR International Convention Centre, Tshwane.

Tshego Motsoenyane, Chief Operating Officer at Ncamiso Mining and a speaker at the Sustainability in Mining Seminar taking place during Sustainability Week 2017, spells out the challenges of the present: “On a global front, mining operations face severe economic and financial challenges, including escalating costs, reduction in resources, labour availability, and effective labour utilization. The gold mining industry, particularly in South Africa, is facing gold price volatility, where rising costs, decreasing commodity prices, lower ore grades and labour issues are squeezing profit margins and ultimately affecting competitiveness in the industry. This is a catch-22 in terms of the growth of the South African industry, as it makes strategic planning very difficult.”

“The sustainability of mining in South Africa is heavily affected by the social implications of widespread labour unrest which imply a lack of trust and transparency between the mining companies and the employees.  The company and employee goal alignment issues affect productivity and profit yield resulting in further wage issues. If these issues are not addressed, the sustainability of the industry is seriously compromised.”

From a global strategic perspective, matters are even more perturbing. As pointed out recently in a peer-reviewed paper in Nature*, the future sustainability of mineral supply is far from assured. Data and demand forecasts on the sustainability of global mineral supplies in coming decades show that not enough mining exploration is taking place to keep up with the future demand for minerals and that mineral recycling alone won’t fill the gap. Cause for concern is the supply of technology minerals needed to produce laptops, cell phones, electric cars, solar panels and copper wiring for homes, as well as base metals like copper. The paper recommends the coordination of international mineral supply through global resource governance and the sharing of geoscience.

Mosa Mabuza, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Geoscience, concurs.  “At a time when the world is making the transition to a low-carbon society, we have to realise that great quantities of metals and minerals are going to be required in order to manufacture the clean technologies that the green economy needs.  We have to ask ourselves, where should exploration efforts be focused? What kind of minerals are we likely to find in different locations? When we know this, we can decide what kind of agreements various countries, especially in Africa, need to make in order to make the most of the minerals.”

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) play a key role in this regard. “With GIS,” says Mabuza, “we can overlay and analyse interdisciplinary data, such as geological maps, geochemical surveys, geophysical images, drillhole data and mineral resource studies. Supplied to mining companies, this information helps them to better understand the geographic or spatial relationships that impact mining and exploration concerns around sustainability, profitability, and environmental issues.”

However, there is a silver lining. By thoroughly integrating sustainability principles in mining planning and operations, mining companies can reduce the sector’s current social and environmental deficit while growing the economy and creating jobs; truly placing mining at the service of the nation.

Speaker Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, explains: “The most commonly used definition of Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  The three dimensions of sustainable development (social environmental and economic) are interconnected and equal.

“What has emerged is a more sophisticated and insightful model, in which it is seen that these three elements are not equal, but rather hierarchical, since there can be neither social nor economic development on a deteriorating environment.

“By providing adequate financial provision for actual and latent or residual impacts and rehabilitation, preventing pollution and concurrently rehabilitating the degraded areas, mining companies can assure sustainable future (post-mining) land uses with associated resources (e.g. water) and viable livelihood opportunities in the post-closure mining phase. They can prevent legacy impacts such as acid mine drainage, radioactivity, dust fallout, seismicity and sinkholes, abandoned radioactive mine residue areas, polluted wetlands and rivers, degraded land, high salinity, etc., the costs of which are currently carried by the domestic sector, future generations and the environment. Beyond that, they can improve the quality of life for communities and future generations without exacerbating poverty. Finally, they can limit their long-term liabilities and the effective closing of the mine.”

The message is clear: by sustaining the planet and the people, mining companies can sustain their profits –  a virtuous circle for a sector under pressure.

Hosted by Alive2Green, in partnership with the City of Tshwane (the Earth Hour Capital for 2015 and 2016), Sustainability Week 2017 will be held at the CSIR International Conference Centre from 13 to 15 June 2017. The Mining Seminar, sponsored by the Council for Geoscience, takes place on 14 June.

Keep up with the conversation on Twitter @SustainWeekSA or join their Facebook page: Sustainability Week SA. For more information visit www.sustainabilityweek.co.za.

News ArticleView Article
Rio-Carb repositions itself as a total wear-solutions provider View
Call for mining industry to update its refrigerant systems View
SEW-EURODRIVE supplies MOVITRANS Contactless Energy Transfer system to Sasol Wax View
Rope access enhances cost-effectiveness of NDT inspection View
Chains and sprockets for bulk materials handling, cement applications View
MIP Process Technologies supplies equipment to global iron-ore giant View
Bobcat Equipment SA launches pothole-busting Pavijet MG7 paver View
Wirtgen Group at Steinexpo 2017 with world premiere from Kleemann View
Carrier Launches AquaEdgeTM 19DV Centrifugal Chiller With Green Refrigerant View
Data and digitisation spur on innovation in the mining industry View
Our Partners
ArriveAlive ALCO-Safe
Moolmans PSA
 HSE Solutions
Ctrack Intelligent Solutions Breathalysers
Become a Partner Become a Partner
Quick Links
  • Rio-Carb repositions itself as a to
  • Call for mining industry to update
  • Rope access enhances cost-effective
  • Chains and sprockets for bulk mater
  • MIP Process Technologies supplies e
  • Bobcat Equipment SA launches pothol
  • Wirtgen Group at Steinexpo 2017 wit
  • Carrier Launches AquaEdgeTM 19DV Ce
  • Data and digitisation spur on innov
  •        Articles
  • Recognize the importance of medical
  • Behavioural implications of alcohol
  • Johnson Controls launches P2000 X-R
  • Improving productivity in the minin
  • Digital Radio to improve mine safet
  • Breathalyser Testing with Lifeloc Q
  • Drug abuse in the workplace – a gro
  • Reporting Unsafe Conditions at Mine
  • Alco-Safe, Breathalysers and Safety
  • Mining regulations on Lifting Machi
  •        Mining Laws
  • Training
  • Downloads
  • Blog
  • About Us
  • Contact Us
  • Home  |   Contact  |   Browser  |   Disclaimer  |   Privacy Policy  |   CMS    
    © 2017 Mining Safety