Environmental sustainability is vital for the survival of future generations and in an industry like mining, which has been drastically impacting the earth for centuries, its well beyond due that global operators start making bigger efforts to make change.
Through the development and integration of practices that reduce the enormous environmental impact caused globally by mining, it is possible for mining operators to now reverse the impact to create a more environmentally sustainable future.
Measures like reducing energy and water consumption, limiting waste production and minimising land disturbances, preventing pollution on sites (including air, water and soil pollutions) and ensuring the efforts on closures and reclamations of sites is carried out to the highest levels.
Although on a global scale, the definition of ‘sustainable development’ can be somewhat variable, the true meaning of development that meets present needs without compromising future generations is often disregarded for the sake of profits.
On a global scale, operators simply aren’t doing enough to ensure our future is developed sustainably. Although imperative measures involving the integration of economic activity, social concerns, effective governmental systems and environmental integrity have had a rising influence on social and environmental policy in the last few decades, can we honestly say that enough is being done?
Organisations across the world have begun developing their own guidelines for sustainable practises within their own administrations, however with the constant exploration of new coal, oil and mineral reserves brings further reason to make drastic changes.
The modern development of technologies increases the economic viability of reserves, however the processes used, the pollution from mining activities and associated infrastructure have huge probability of irreversible damage to the health of ecosystems, and a reduction in the ability to provide the product safely for both environment and human welfare.
An environment in good health for future generations is the reason we need sustainable development. High levels of pollution compromise the ability to purify the air and water when the surrounding ecosystems are smothered by the impacts of unhealthy mining practises performed in past generations.
To become more environmentally sustainable, mining operations must lessen the impact on the environments surround mine sites. They also have a momentous responsibility to leave the land in an acceptable state when mine closures occur. Land must be left in a state ready for re-use by people or ready for ecosystems to regenerate as close as they were before.
A range of technologies and management strategies are constantly being developed and used by the mining industry to help reduce the environmental impacts of mining and should be taken on board globally.
Reducing inputs like water, energy and land disruption, and reducing outputs like waste, acid rock drainage and reclamation are vital to a sustainable future.
“You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today” – Abraham Lincoln.