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Suppliers have a pivotal role in enabling the mining and minerals industry to achieve their goals for sustainable development and demonstrating corporate responsibility. Reputable suppliers know their products and services and the industry, and are often well placed to have unique knowledge of these in relation to their customers’ business needs. A survey of professionals from the mining and minerals industry was conducted, revealing factors limiting the influence of suppliers on a mining company’s move toward sustainable development and specifically their environmental performance. Factors that affect a mining company’s ability to engage with suppliers and the reasons why these companies believe suppliers are important
to the achievement of their goals for sustainable development are also identified and discussed. This aspect of sustainable development in the mining and minerals industry has not been studied extensively. Petroleum hydrocarbon suppliers, in particular, affect a mine’s goals for sustainable development because of the extensive reach of petroleum hydrocarbon products into the mining and minerals product life-cycle, their impact on operational efficiencies, cost, and mine viability, and their potential
for leaving negative environmental as well as safety legacies. The petroleum hydrocarbon life-cycle is a framework that enables structured engagement between
supplier and customer on a range of sustainable development issues because it is an example of an input into the mining industry that affects the entire mining and
minerals processing value chain. The life-cycle starts with supply of fuels, lubricants, speciality chemicals, and services to the mine, through plant operation and
maintenance, transport of mined products, and ship loading, and finally to mineral processing and other downstream value-adding. Eco-efficiency opportunities in this life-cycle are the main focus of this chapter. There are barriers within the mining industry to leveraging suppliers’ capabilities which have to be overcome before the
industry will realise the full benefits from such supplier engagement.