4 challenges that mining companies need to address

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4 challenges that mining companies need to address

There’s an abundance of activities that contribute to our economy, and mining is one of them. Mining roughly contributes 10 percent to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). And while it might help grow the economy, there are some downsides to mining.

The mining industry has several harmful impacts on the environment. Some of these include water pollution, damage to biodiversity, soil erosion and pollution. It is up to the mining industry to formulate plans that can make a difference. With the ever-changing technology, we have access to today, there are many ways in which these challenges can be addressed.

Read this article to find out what can be done to combat these challenges:


Water scarcity

Besides climate change, one of the reasons for water scarcity is the rise in population. South Africa currently has over 50 million people who need access to clean drinking water. However, water sources are under severe stress for businesses, people and wildlife.

As it is, mining industries are consuming and polluting a large portion of our available resource. According to the statistics released in parliament, 118 mines in South Africa are contaminating river water. This is concerning as it will not only affect the environment, but it will also affect habitats and people in neighbouring areas who are consuming that water.

There are several wastewater solutions for mines that can assist them during this crisis. The industry can invest in mining wastewater treatment plants which will treat the mine wastewater converting back to potable drinking water. This is an effective way of ensuring that the water that seeps into the environment is clean and of high quality. Water that has gone through mining water treatment process can be reused by the mining company or released into a sanitary sewer or river for human consumption.


The rise in energy consumption

According to the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Jeff Rhadebe, the mining industry is one of the major consumers of energy. The industry uses more than 38 percent; 19 percent goes to coal and coal products, 5 percent goes to gas, and 2 percent goes to global oil. Mining companies need to implement effective ways to reduce their energy consumptions, save costs and make a positive difference for the environment.

According to Rhadebe, the industry needs to review their manufacturing processes and ensure that they de-carbonise, decentralise and digitalise processes. Through the use of technology, mining companies can lead to cleaner and sustainable energy processes.


Health and safety

Mining is among one of the most dangerous jobs in South Africa. We have heard of many miners losing their lives on the job, either through the inhalation of toxic gases or through explosions. This is a challenge that needs to be addressed, and there are several ways to help keep your employees safe and out of harm's way:

  • Make sure you’re complying to the health and safety standards.
  • Keep an eye for hazardous areas and inform your mine workers.
  • Educate your employees on how to work safely.
  • Listen to your employee's complaints and worries.

Yes, there are safety issues that are out of your control. But you need to assess those risks, and consider solutions to keep your employees informed and feel protected on-site.


Decrease hazardous mining processes

Mining does impact not only the environment but also the mineworkers. This is why it's important that the mining industry rethink their processes. For example, they can implement the use of drones during their processes. Not only will it streamline operations, but it will also be a safer alternative for miners. Drones can be used to drill holes and drop explosives for excavation. These are all hazardous tasks that mineworkers have to do. With technology, drones can provide mine owners with real-time information on the current state of a mine.


Final thoughts

Although mining has its challenges, there are solutions to improve circumstances. Thanks to technology innovation, soon, these challenges will be a thing of the past and mining will do more good for the environment and economy than bad.

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