sustainable development      Realising mineral the      MEM takes a look at the sustainable development mechanisms that ha...
heories ‘down under’ce in Australia’s mining and minerals-processing industry             A SURVEY OF AUSTRALIAN          ...
sustainable development                                                          Continued from page 13                   ...
sustainable development      Above: Illawarra Coal produced                   Continued from page 14                      ...
March 2006                 Counting the cost of                 managing HIV/AIDS in                 South Africa         ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

Sustainable Development in the Resource Sector


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Sustainable Development in the Resource Sector

  1. 1. sustainable development Realising mineral the MEM takes a look at the sustainable development mechanisms that have been put in place in Aus C ASE studies that demonstrate how the various elements of sustainable development are being implemented across the Australian mining and minerals processing industry are well documented. Lessons learned from these are that environmental and social improvements at operation levels, and within the “An important communities in which they operate, can realise short- and long-term economic benefits. means for making The most commonly-used mechanisms for implementing sustainable sustainable development across the case studies surveyed BY TURLOUGH GUERIN were the cleaner production elements of technology modi- development fication and on-site recycling (or re-use) of wastes, as well as In 2004, the MCA released a framework for sustainable operational is stakeholder engagement. development called “Enduring Value”, which further underpins through the use of The scope of the sustainability agenda fully integrates ecological, social and economic objectives in a way that the Australian industry’s commitment to sustainable development. Enduring value was based on the ICMM’s ten cleaner production provides both challenges and opportunities for the mining principles of sustainable development published in May 2003. approaches” industry. Sustainable development in the minerals industry Putting these principles into action has been a challenge for means that investments should be profitable, technically the industry globally and in Australia, and much has been appropriate, environmentally sound and socially responsible. achieved in meeting it. The Australian mining industry, through the Minerals This article summarises the findings from a survey of 13 case Council of Australia (MCA) (a member of the International studies across Australia’s industry that show how sustainable Council of Mining and Metals; ICMM), introduced a code of development can be successfully implemented at the opera- practice in 1996 to facilitate greater environmental stewardship tional level of a mining or minerals-processing operation, using across the industry. cleaner production tools and stakeholder engagement. TABLE 1: CASE STUDIES OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CLEANER PRODUCTION IN AUSTRALIA’S MINERALS INDUSTRY Case-study focus Minerals sector Company and location Summary description of case study (activity and outcome) Air emission reduction Aluminium Comalco Aluminium Ltd (Rio Tinto) Use of dry-scrubbing technology led to A$11 million in savings and Bell Bay Smelter – Bell Bay, Tasmania contributed significantly to the local community. Dust management Lime Blue Circle Southern Cement Plant modifications enabled removal of fine dusts from the process and – Marulan, NSW the collection of the limestone dust for sale as a by-product. Energy and materials Industrial Tiwest Joint Venture Pigment Plant Modified process to recover synthetic rutile uses waste acid from efficiency minerals – Kwinana, Western Australia neighbouring company to produce ammonium chloride for use in pigment production. Iluka Resources Ltd Synthetic Adopting technology to capture waste heat power and installed Rutile Plant – Kwinana, Western Australia an electrostatic precipitator. Generated 6.5 MW returning 16% on capital saving A$1.5 million/y. Coal BHP Billiton Coal – Illawarra region, NSW Capture of coal-seam methane and piping it to surface where it generates 94 MW of energy through electricity generation (energy for 60,000 homes). Energy Xstrata’s Mount Isa Mines Program of innovations enabled opening of new mine, increase capacity – Mt Isa, Queensland while cutting electricity use, CO2 emissions and delaying demand for new power station. Water efficiency Steel OneSteel Whyalla Steelworks Reed beds were introduced for treatment of industrial waste water to – Whyalla, South Australia reduce water consumption and increase quality of discharged water. Copper and BHP Billiton Olympic Dam Mine Production processes were modified so less water is used in flotation/ uranium – Roxby Downs, South Australia separation; recycling acid and saline water from mine tailings for drilling and dust control. Waste minimisation Aluminium Alcoa Portland Aluminium Reduction in waste going to landfill by evaluating processes, through – Portland, Victoria gaining the commitment of its workforce and combining with waste minimisation concepts. Integrated sustainable Aluminium Alcoa World Alumina Implemented range of cleaner production initiatives at bauxite mines development – various locations in Western Australia and alumina refineries, led to saving of about A$0.5 million annually. Gold JV between Delta Gold & Placer Dome Developed range of sustainability practices, taking holistic approach to Granny Smith Mine mining. Created opportunities for indigenous communities and reduced – Laverton, Western Australia landfill waste. Oxiana Golden Grove Operations Initiatives reduced pollution and landfill waste, improved energy – Western Australia efficiency and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions, and improved rehabilitation processes. Diamonds Argyle Diamond Mine (Rio Tinto) Mine was threatened with closure in 2001 but is still operating in 2006 as – Kununurra, Western Australia a result of efforts by management implementing a range of initiatives. 12 Mining Environmental Management March 2006MEM0603.indd 12 22.3.06 1:14:22 pm
  2. 2. heories ‘down under’ce in Australia’s mining and minerals-processing industry A SURVEY OF AUSTRALIAN CASE STUDIES Table 1 provides a summary of how sustainable development is being implemented in Australia from the outcomes from the 13 case studies surveyed. The case studies presented cover a wide range of the Cleaner production environmental, social, community and business issues facing modern mining operations in Australia. The studies demonstrate: ■ That a wide range of companies, representing a cross-section of the mining and minerals-processing sector, Product Input Technology Good Onsite have embarked on the sustainable modification substitution modification housekeeping recovery development journey. ■ That there is a need for an integrated response by mining companies to the environmental, First tier: Second tier: social and economic impacts at their source reduction recycling and re-use operations. This includes a co-ordinated internal effort within the organisation to implement sustainable development but also across the industry. WAYS TO EMBED SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Above: Five cleaner production ■ The financial, environmental and social benefits of An important means for making sustainable development approaches. Cleaner production implementing sustainable development initiatives can be operational is through the use of cleaner production aims at making more efficient significant, particularly when the impacts are considered across approaches. Cleaner production is a preventive strategy, and to use of natural resources (raw a mine and the region in which it is operating. improve its success in contributing to a business’ sustainability, material, energy and water) ■ Different operations face different challenges, depending it should be linked to the core activities of the business. The and reducing the generation on the location of their operations, and indicates the need elements of cleaner production, as applied to the mining and of wastes and emissions at for mining operations to work with the natural environment the minerals industry, are summarised in table 2 (p14) and the the source. This is generally in their area. For example, the BHP Billiton Olympic Dam case diagram above. achieved through a combination study illustrated measures undertaken to improve water Cleaner production is an environmental improvement of product modification, input efficiency in remote regions, which suffer water shortages. strategy, which leads to specific solutions applicable to substitution, technology ■ The importance of mining operations working with and any given business. However, cleaner production also modification, good housekeeping providing employment for indigenous communities. This is draws upon, and is linked to social and economic drivers. and (on-site) recycling and reuse becoming an increasingly important expectation for many Cleaner production is one of a number of ways in which an mining companies striving to be sustainable. organisation can move toward sustainable development and ■ Cleaner production and stakeholder engagement are the its success is linked to both internal and external stakeholders key mechanisms for embedding sustainable development of a mining or minerals processing organisation. initiatives. Continued on page 14 March 2006 Mining Environmental Management 13 MEM0603.indd 13 22.3.06 1:14:24 pm
  3. 3. sustainable development Continued from page 13 development in the case studies are given in table 3. Based on Cleaner production complements life-cycle analyses (LCA), an analysis of these case studies, the following observations product stewardship programmes and initiatives, as well as can be made about the use of cleaner production, LCA, product social ‘tools” including stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder stewardship and stakeholder engagement in the Australian engagement, which has become more and more important in minerals industry: the global mining industry, is now being recognised by mining ■ Technology modifications, including process equipment managers as a critical tool, enabling them to operate their redesigns and on-site recycling (or recovery), are the most mines. The type of stakeholders relevant to mining operations common applications of cleaner production tools with more Copper being smelted at WMC include local, state and federal governments, communities, than 60% of the 13 case studies using these approaches. Resources Ltd’s Olympic Dam suppliers and customers. The way in which these relationships ■ Stakeholder engagement was an important approach Copper mine, South Australia, within and external to an operation are managed, is critical as used with more than 50% of case studies demonstrating its where cleaner production these will impact upon all initiatives to enhance the operation’s important role. technologies have been future viability. ■ Resource use optimisation was also an important cleaner integrated effectively The main mechanisms for implementing sustainable production tool, with 46% of the reported case studies using this as a major means of implementing sustainable Photo: Bloomberg News development initiatives. This included optimisation of how ore resources and other process raw materials are used, as well as improvements in how other inputs were used including energy sources and chemical reagent inputs into downstream processes. ■ Input substitution, good housekeeping, LCA and product stewardship were less prominent; under 35% of case studies demonstrated that they were used for contributing to sustainable development at mining and minerals-processing operations. ■ Pigment production at the Tiwest joint venture in Western Australia demonstrates an example where numerous tools for implementing sustainable development were effectively used in an integrated manner. ■ Coal-seam methane capture at BHP Billiton’s operations in the Illawarra region of NSW, and efficient waste use at its Olympic Dam operations in South Australia, both demonstrate operations where cleaner production technologies and stakeholder engagement have been integrated effectively. HIGHLIGHTS AND TAKE-HOME MESSAGES The case studies highlight the following about implementing sustainable development in Australian minerals industry: ■ Mining and minerals companies in Australia are putting Continued on page 16 TABLE 2: GENERIC APPLICATIONS OF CLEANER PRODUCTION IN THE MINING AND MINERALS INDUSTRY Cleaner production element Application Mining Minerals processing Resource use optimisation Improved separation of overburden and Sequential leaching to recover multiple other wastes/materials to produce minerals/metals from ore higher-purity ore Enhanced modeling of orebody to optimise Conversion of process wastes and emissions ore recovery into useful by-products Sourcing customers to match range of Residue processing into geochemically-stable grades ores produced forms for storage with minimised impact Input substitution Fluids selection for operating plant in process Use of environmentally-friendly reagents and non-process areas and process auxiliaries Technology modification Efficient mine design to minimise minerals Alternative metallurgical processes movement during operation and for closure (eg biotechnological) In-pit milling and separation Use of energy-efficient fixed/mobile plant Design of mine refuelling and lubricant Application of fuel-efficient furnaces dispensing facilities to enable lowest cost and and boilers safe supply to mobile plant Enhanced monitoring and control of leaching and recovery processes Good housekeeping Monitoring and benchmarking of haulage Use of inventories to manage and control all fleet fuel efficiency inputs into process On-site recycling Composting of green wastes to produce Recovery and reprocessing of un-reacted heat/steam generation ore from processing waste Reuse of overburden/waste rock in progressive Counter-current use of water for washing rehabilitation of mine site operations 14 Mining Environmental Management March 2006MEM0603.indd 14 22.3.06 1:14:30 pm
  4. 4. sustainable development Above: Illawarra Coal produced Continued from page 14 contributing to a region’s economic and social well-being. 6.07 Mt of saleable coal in sustainable development into operation at their sites. The ■ Water-efficiency improvements will be needed by 2004-05 extent to which this is being done varies from operation to any mining company planning to remain viable in future, Above right: dust suppression at operation and it is reasonable to state that no one operation particularly in Australia where water is major limiting resource. Illawarra Coal’s product stockpile, reviewed has implemented a fully sustainable operation. Similarly energy efficiency improvements will also be Port Kembla Coal Terminal ■ Environmental and social improvements at operations important. and communities in which they operate, can realise economic ■ At the operations level, there needs to be clear commit- benefits and will not always incur a major financial cost for ment from senior management to make the case for change to a mining operation or its corporate function. For example, a more sustainable mining or minerals-processing operation. improvements to waste-management practices and waste Such commitment is needed if effective operation-wide prevention can lead to cost reductions and often increased engagement and participation is sought for a sustainable revenues. development initiative. ■ Local communities provide the means by which a mining ■ Mining companies need to work closely with other or minerals-processing operation can realise its full potential in businesses (eg neighbours and others processors and manufacturers in minerals supply chain) and suppliers to identify new processes, products and knowledge that will increase the sustainability of their businesses. For example, there were relatively few examples where a mining operation had engaged explicitly with suppliers to enhance its own move towards sustainability. This suggests that there are barriers to the current way in which suppliers are engaged by mining operations and that these barriers need to be overcome before the benefits to sustainability, of closer engagement with suppliers, will be realised. Right: Tiwest’s pigment processing plant is where numerous Turlough Guerin works for Shell’s Commercial Fuel business in tools were effectively used for Sydney, and supports the mining and heavy industry marketing sustainable development in an and sales team in Australia. He can be contacted via e-mail at: integrated manner TABLE 3: A COMPARISON OF THE 13 CASE STUDIES AND THE SPECIFIC TOOLS EMPLOYED AT EACH OF THESE Australian mining case studies (Argyle Diamond Mine, Western Australia) Tools and (Tiwest Joint Venture, Western Australia) (Golden Grove Mine, Western Australia) (Granny Smith Mine, Western Australia) (Portland Aluminium Smelter, Victoria) approaches (Olympic Dam Mine, South Australia) Integrated Sustainable development Integrated Sustainable development Integrated Sustainable development (Iluka Rutile Plant, Western Australia) Integrated sustainable development used Coal-seam methane utilisation Efficient-energy management (OneSteel, South Australia) (Blue Circle Cement, NSW) (Alcoa, Western Australia) Efficient-water utilisation Efficient-water utilisation Air emission reduction Waste heat utilisation Xstrata, Queensland) (Comalco, Tasmania) Pigment production Waste minimisation (BHP Billiton, NSW) Dust management Cleaner Production Resource use optimisation ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Input substitution ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Technology modification ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Good housekeeping ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ On-site recycling (recovery) ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Life-cycle analysis (LCA) ■ ■ ■ ■ Product stewardship ■ ■ ■ Stakeholder engagement ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Note: major (■) and minor (■) emphasis of the particular tool or approach evident from the case studies 16 Mining Environmental Management March 2006MEM0603.indd 16 22.3.06 1:14:36 pm
  5. 5. March 2006 Counting the cost of managing HIV/AIDS in South Africa Theory into practice: sustainable development in Australia Reducing emissions from China’s coal minesMEM0603.indd 1 22.3.06 1:13:14 pm