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How can mining become more environmentally sustainable?

environmentally sustainableenvironmentally sustainable
environmentally sustainableenvironmentally sustainable

How can mining become more environmentally sustainable?

The mining industry uses a large number of natural resources, such as water, soil and minerals. While it is a vital industry which contributes to the economy of many countries, it can be damaging to the environment. There are ways that mining companies can become more environmentally sustainable as outlined below.

 

Reduce inputs

The mining industry uses a large amount of water and land in their operations. One solution to becoming more environmentally sustainable is to reduce the input of the mine. By diverting surface water and pumping groundwater, mines can reduce both the quantity and quality of water available downstream for aquatic ecosystems and other use.

With regard to energy, a mining company can look into alternative energy sources such as solar or wind power. By reducing the energy usage, a mine can reduce greenhouse gases and extend the life of fossil fuel reserves. You will also be able to reduce the cost to produce the product and thus reduce the cost of the commodity itself.

 

Reduce outputs

Mining produces materials such as solid waste, mine water and air particles, all of which vary in their makeup and potential for environmental contamination. Waste management plans are required in order to prevent soil, air and water pollution. These plans are also in place to appropriately store the large volumes of waste produced at mine sites.

To reduce waste output, mines can look at using sustainable equipment. Much of the modern equipment used today is geared toward being environmentally friendly, including those provided by Babcock plant services. Using cleaner production techniques, environmental control technologies, using waste as raw material and process re-engineering are other ways to reduce the waste output of mines.

 

Proper waste disposal

Correct waste disposal is vital to curbing the environmental impact of mines, as some mining companies do not dispose of their waste according to guidelines. Companies can invest in equipment that helps in turning waste into reusable material, as well as adopting policies that allow for a more eco-friendly waste disposal routine.

Water can be reused on mining sites as grey water for washing equipment or flushing staff toilets. Mining companies should aim to reuse and recycle water as much as possible, and be sure that all unusable water is disposed of safely and responsibly. Scrap materials can be recycled or sold to companies who can reuse them in order to reduce the amount of waste produced on site.

 

Improving the manufacturing process

The efficiency of the mining process can often leave much to be desired, but improving  the efficiency of this process can help towards lessening the environmental impact. This also allows companies to regulate processes which may be lacking in environmental friendliness.

Supervising the manufacturing processes will allow mining companies to change elements that are inefficient or that use too many natural resources. Conducting a material flows analysis will track the physical flows of natural resources through extraction, production, fabrication, use and recycling, and final disposal. This data will allow supervisors to develop new processes that are more efficient and sustainable than previous ones.

 

Close and reclaim shut-down mines

Allowing shut-down mines to continue to stand open is a hazard not only to the community but to the environment too. Often these mines still have hazardous waste on the property which can leak into the soil and water table or come into contact with the surrounding humans and animals living close by.

These shut-down mines can also lead to illegal mining activity, which is why it is imperative to close and reclaim them. Mining companies can band together to commission small decommissioning groups and contractors to take apart the mining processing facilities and plants which will allow the pipelines to be drained and wastes disposed of properly and safely.

 

Replenishing the environment

Mining companies sometimes overlook the importance of replenishing the environment. This simple act can go a long way towards increasing the environmental sustainability of mining. There are simple solutions that can be followed, such as replenishing native soils and grasses, cleaning excess waste, proper waste removal, site inspections and replanting trees and natural forestry.

By restoring the environment around the mine, the mining companies are contributing to positive environmental change, rather than making the environment more difficult to live in. The reclamation process of a shut-down mine should include such steps as removing hazardous materials, reshaping the land, planting native grasses or trees and restoring the topsoil.

 

Final words

In order to lessen their impact on the environment, mining companies should look into using sustainable equipment and waste disposal procedures. They should also consider replenishing the local environment as often as possible, which will make the surrounding area habitable and able to return to a natural state once the mine has closed. Reducing both input and output of the mining process can also help to reduce the negative impact that mines have on the environment.

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