Mining Industry

New Article Published

I’m glad to share the good news of the publication of my new research paper.

The title is “Corporate social responsibility and economic growth in the mining industry” and it’s published in The Extractive Industries and Society by Elsevier.

You can read it here.

Mining and the Circular Economy: A CSR Opportunity

The mining industry is a major contributor to the global economy, providing the raw materials essential for manufacturing and construction. However, it is also one of the most resource-intensive and polluting industries, with a significant environmental footprint.

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need for a more sustainable approach to business, one that takes into account the environmental and social impacts of our activities. The concept of the circular economy is an appealing model for the mining industry, as it offers a way to close the loop on resource use and waste.

There are many challenges to implementing a circular economy in the mining industry, but it also presents a significant opportunity for companies to improve their CSR credentials and contribute to a more sustainable future.

The mining industry is under pressure to adopt CSR and circular economy principles

The industry has long been criticized for its lack of attention to environmental and social considerations, with calls to move towards more sustainable business practices becoming louder and louder. In response to this pressure, many companies within the industry have begun to implement CSR activities, such as reducing their environmental impacts, increasing workforce diversity, and investing in local communities. At the same time, more companies are beginning to recognize the potential of the circular economy as a way to reduce waste, create more efficient use of resources, and create value through better utilization of materials. The principle of the circular economy is to work within closed systems, in which materials are continually reused and repurposed, reducing the need for new raw materials. This model can have significant positive impacts on the environment and also offer new business opportunities for companies that adopt it.

CSR and circular economy in the mining industry – an overview

The mining industry is ideally placed to benefit from the circular economy, as it is a major source of raw materials. The idea of extracting resources and using them efficiently is a central tenant of the circular economy. In this context, the industry has an opportunity to adopt principles within its own operations to create a more sustainable and responsible approach. One way in which this can be achieved is through the adoption of ‘green mining’ methods, which focus on reducing waste and environmental impacts, as well as making use of available resources in the most efficient way possible. Companies can also look at ways to repurpose or reuse materials that might otherwise be discarded or lost. In addition, they can use their influence and resources to support initiatives such as knowledge sharing and training, helping local communities to benefit from the mining industry in a more sustainable way.

Industry examples of CSR and circular economy in action

In recent years, there have been several notable examples of companies in the mining industry taking positive steps to adopt CSR and circular economy principles. One of the most impressive examples is the Rio Tinto mine in Mongolia, which is attempting to become the world’s first ‘circular economy-driven mine’. The company has set out an ambitious plan that involves closing the loop on the resources it uses, re-purposing tailings and waste, and investing in local knowledge sharing and training. This project is still in its early stages, but it demonstrates the potential for circular economy-driven operations in the mining sector. Rio Tinto is not the only company to recognize the potential of the circular economy. In Canada, Teck Resources has created an innovative recycling program for its steel-making plant in Trail, British Columbia. Its ‘Greenest Iron’ program seeks to close the loop on steelmaking, by collecting used steel from customers and re-purposing it for new products. This program is an example of how companies can use circular economy principles to drive efficiencies and reduce waste.

The benefits of CSR and circular economy for the mining industry

The adoption of CSR and circular economy principles can bring considerable benefits to the mining industry, both in terms of environmental sustainability and business opportunities. A well-implemented CSR program can help to improve public perceptions of the industry, while also creating operational efficiencies that can increase profits. For example, reduced waste and improved resource use can lead to cost savings, while responsible sourcing initiatives can create new business opportunities in untapped markets. At the same time, implementing a circular economy approach can also help to reduce the environmental impacts of the industry. This can include measures such as reducing the need for new materials, increasing the reuse of resources, and improving energy efficiency. A more sustainable approach to operations can also help to build trust with local communities and create value for stakeholders.

The challenges of implementing CSR and circular economy in the mining industry

It is clear that the mining industry has much to gain from CSR and circular economy principles. However, the challenge for many companies is the implementation of these principles. There are numerous obstacles to overcome, such as the need for significant investment in new technologies and processes, resistance from stakeholders, and a lack of knowledge and resources. The lack of a clear regulatory framework is also problematic. Currently, there are very few laws governing the mining industry’s environmental and social activities, leaving companies with little guidance on how to best manage their operations sustainably. Additionally, existing regulations can be ambiguous and difficult to interpret, making it challenging for companies to develop and implement CSR and circular economy initiatives.

The way forward for the mining industry

The challenges facing the mining industry in the adoption of CSR and circular economy principles are significant, but they are not insurmountable. The industry needs to take a strategic approach, considering the long-term benefits that can be achieved from sustainable operations. Companies should have clear goals and objectives, and seek out partnerships and innovative solutions that can help them to achieve these goals. There also needs to be greater cooperation among companies, NGOs, governments, and local communities to create a stronger regulatory framework that can support CSR and circular economy initiatives. This should include specific goals and standards, as well as incentives for companies to adopt more sustainable practices. With the right approach, the mining industry can become a major contributor to the circular economy, creating value for its stakeholders and a more sustainable future.

What would happen if we stopped mining?

Can we survive without mining?

The extraction of minerals, metals, and fuels from the ground is one of humankind’s oldest industries, and our appetite for it is growing. But what if we stopped the extraction of fossil fuels and minerals entirely? What if, in order to better protect the environment, humanity decided the contents of the Earth’s crust were off-limits?

Imagining a world without access to the underground allows us to examine how dependent we have become on this ongoing extraction. It also invites us to consider the frivolousness with which we often then throw these materials away, and to examine the overlooked potential in this waste as a source of new materials.

Most countries mine something; China, Australia, and the US are the global leaders in the production value of raw materials, but extraction makes up a far larger share of the economy for some other nations. In at least 18 countries, metallic minerals and coal account for more than half of all exports; for some of these, it’s more than 80%.

Under a no-mining-of-metals scenario, the entire economies of countries such as Suriname, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mongolia would be at risk. Around three months after the end of mining, stockpiles of rare earth metals and other metals useful to technology would be finished, leading to worrying trends for the pharmaceutical, car, electronics, and construction industries.

Just in time for the collapse of supply chains, oil reserves would finally run out. Renewables, however, would be the ultimate kingmakers because they need unprecedented volumes of non-renewable mined materials. Solar panels demand large amounts of silicon for the semiconductors in their cells. Moreover, wind turbines need neodymium for powerful magnets that generate electricity with the turn of the blades

Mining is not going anywhere anytime soon: in fact, experts predict a new surge in metals and aggregate mining over the coming decades. Global inequalities would be seen in this mining clean-up. Wastes and tailings ponds, meanwhile, could present an opportunity to access metals.

More mining will likely create more land impacts. Mining and biodiversity researcher Laura Sonterand and her colleagues recently warned that mining the materials needed for renewable energy will increase the threats to biodiversity, as without careful planning, these new threats could surpass those avoided by climate change mitigation.

Source: BBC

EU, U.S. step up Russian aluminium, nickel imports since Russia-Ukraine conflict

Data showed that the EU and the U.S. have ramped up buying key industrial metals from Russia, despite logistical problems spurred by the war in Ukraine and tough talk about starving Moscow of foreign exchange revenue. The metal shipments highlight the West’s difficulty in pressuring Russia’s economy, which has performed better than expected and seen its Rouble currency surge.

The total value of EU and U.S. imports of the two metals from March to June were $1.98 billion. The West has imposed repeated waves of sanctions on a wide range of Russian products, people, and institutions, but has largely spared the industrial metals sector, while prices of both metals surged to record peaks shortly after the conflict on Feb. 24, 2018.

As can be seen, during the four months following the conflict, the EU was the biggest importer of unwrought aluminium from Russia, pulling in an average of 78,207 tonnes a month in March-June, 13% more than the same period last year, and U.S. monthly imports of Russian aluminium averaged 23,049 tonnes, up 21%. However, Norway will exclude Russian metal from deals to buy aluminium for 2023.

On the other hand, nickel imports from Russia by the top three destinations in March-June rose 17% year-on-year. The United States saw the biggest gains, surging 70% compared to last year, while EU shipments gained 22%.

It should be mentioned that a jump in prices following the invasion provided an extra incentive to continue exports.

Source: Reuters

Why Mining is Crucial for Sustainability

Sustainability Decoded with Tim Mohin and Caitlin Kinney is a place for leaders and experts to talk about important stories and the latest trends in ESG and climate.

ICMM CEO Rohitesh Dhawan discusses how mining and the circular economy intersect.

Produced by Persefoni Media House and Hueman Group Media.

Sibanye-Stillwater strategising energy solution involvement

Energy solutions that reverse climate change are on the list of strategic differentiators that Sibanye-Stillwater has under scrutiny.

They envisaged involvement is at the grid storage end of energy solutions, where redox batteries, vanadium, and molten salt grid storage solutions that use antimony reside. The company’s focus remains on producing metals, but they do believe, over an extended period, that having some exposure to the downstream side of certain businesses is valuable and appropriate.

Also, in response to a question on the role Sibanye-Stillwater would play with other stakeholders to voice concern about illegal mining by Zama-Zamas, Froneman said the company had highlighted the illegal mining issue for many years and had incurred considerable expense in dealing with illegal mining, which had even led to the company having to close shafts prematurely.

Full Article at Mining Weekly

Turning intent into action with the right talent for ESG in mining

Environmental Social Governance (ESG) is not a new concept. In fact, it has been part of many industry conversations for years, with some early movers seeing the need for change 10, 15, even 20 years ago. In more recent times the buzz-term ESG has come to be and there has been a growing need to integrate these commitments within central business functions due to the impact of climate change

The mining sector is facing one of the most transformative times in its history. Companies are presented with the opportunity to redefine and reorganize their businesses to create a more environmentally and socially responsible future for the industry. Therefore, to move from promise to action, mining companies must be set up to respond to ESG opportunity, challenges and risks which requires operating models that facilitate accountability, visibility and collaboration between departments along with a clear governance structure.

Full Article at

Energy Transition Minerals in Ghana

In some African countries with significant fossil fuels, public policy discussions around the energy transition have centred around perceived risks associated with the transition – undeveloped oil fields, stranded assets and untapped oil revenues. To respond to such concerns, Ghana set up the National Energy Transition Committee (NETC) in December 2021.

A multi-year review (2004-2019) of trends in mineral production shows limited government revenue generated from mining despite significant production volumes. Also, upstream oil and gas sector has generated more revenues (approximately USD 6 billion) than bauxite, gold and manganese.

There is a need to update mining laws, policies and practices and align them both economically (with well-defined industrial development strategy) and ecologically (with commitments to meeting climate targets). It can be noted that critical minerals strategy and action plan would be a tactical step in defining a pathway to optimize value creation in the critical minerals boom.

There might be some potential risks such as at the early stages of the value chain, the award of mining rights and contracts could become vulnerable. To address these risks, transparent and accountable governance systems need to be strengthened before new licenses for critical minerals are awarded. Furthermore, opening due diligence processes to check corporate ownership chains and other Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) indicators can be helpful. Together with transparent processes, adequately funded government agencies can play a key role in improving access to data.

To sum up, Ghana’s nationwide consultation to develop a national energy transition policy is a positive step. The resulting policy will be insufficient without considering the opportunities and risks associated with critical minerals, and policymakers could draw on GHEITI’s annual disclosure. After all, a balance between energy, economic development and environment is crucial.

Source: EiTi

Heading to Smart Mining

New research shows that the demand for equipment and technologies based on the 4th generation in the field of smart mining will grow by more than 10% annually. The data of the Transparency Market Research institute shows that mining groups’ investment in such technologies will grow by an average of 10.1% annually between 2021 and 2031, and most of the purchases have been focused on technologies based on connectivity and intelligent automation.

The results of this institute’s estimates show that in this time horizon, mining companies worldwide will invest in these products and solutions to continuously improve safety and strengthen real-time monitoring of equipment, all of which will help them to reach their optimum level. The use of data management and operation software has helped mining companies active in the intelligent mining market earn more income while optimizing the performance of equipment during work. At the same time, such solutions support preventive tool maintenance methods that ensure safer mining. The studies of TMR analysts, which are reflected in this study, show innovation in various parts and equipment, especially in the fields of drilling and crushing, automatic excavators and unloading devices, as well as tools that enable remote mining and exploration activities. which is more popular nowadays.

Mental Health in the Mining Industry

As I was doing a little bit of research about my dissertation, I came to a compelling topic which happens to be one of my main side interests along mining industry. The main topic was about health and safety in the mining industry. However, the specific focus was on the mental health of miners and workers in the mines.

I have come to realize that engineers and geologists are often unfamiliar with the concept of human behavior or at least make an effort to digitize it, and I have to say they have pushed the envelope! But the fact is that you cannot analyze every aspect of a human behavior by mathematics and codes, at least not now or in the near future!

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has done quite amazing job, setting a guideline regarding mental health of Australian miners.

“More than one in five Australian mining industry workers has experienced mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety in the past 12 months,” said Beyond Blue Chairman Jeff Kennett. “But sadly, too many workplaces still do not realise the importance of their employees’ mental health.”

The health of all mining industry employees involves not only physical but also psychological wellness. Mental health, drug use and misuse, smoking, and exhaustion are among the complicated concerns that affect mine workers, according to the Queensland Occupational Health Mining Advisory Committee. We must consider workplace dangers such as harassment and/or workplace bullying, work-related stress, work-related violence, and work-related exhaustion while managing mental health in any organization.

Here you can find the link to MCA guide on mental health and wellness for mining industry employees: