The world of mining is changing. The traditional landscape of operations is transforming as emerging green technologies and equipment will soon make mining more efficient, cleaner and safer.
A 2013 report addressed market volatility, rising costs, falling commodity prices, decreasing productivity, policy changes and social justice scrutiny among the drivers of important new green innovation in mining technology.
“Mining companies have been criticized for poor environmental practices, but few people realize there’s a large and growing set of companies around the world developing new technologies to help make mining more efficient, better for the planet and safer for workers and local communities,” said Kachan Associate Kathy Chen, primary author of the report. “Innovative technology companies are finding market opportunities in addressing the common criticisms of mining.”
The mining sector, which is recognized as one of the top pollutant industries in the world, is evolving into a greener industry. The following 10 green initiatives are expected to be common practice in the next few years within the sector.
10. Surface miner 2200
The future of surface mining will no longer consist of drilling and blasting, which can often lead to fires in mines. Instead, it will go through eco-friendly mining technology like the surface miner 2200 SM. It will not only improve the cost effectiveness and quality of mining, but provide a more environmentally gentle mining method by reducing heavy vibrations and pollution by noise and dust created by conventional methods.
9. Renewable energy
Utilizing renewable energy sources has been a primary focus for the mining industry. One company putting it to use is Barrick Gold. The miner has 140 energy efficiency projects across its portfolio of operations. The company currently receives 19 percent of its power from renewable sources.
8. Advances in water reclamation
Treating mine site water, both diligently and effectively, is an important quality in maintaining a respectable mining operation. Taking it beyond just regulations is something that will eventually become common practice among the industry, as companies like Ecosphere Technologies has recently introduced Ozonix technology, a chemical-free treatment for bacteria, soluble-organics and hydrocarbons found present in residual wastewater streams produced by the mining industry.
The eMalahleni Local Municipality in South Africa is another example of companies going the extra mile. Undertaken by Anglo American and BHP Billiton, the award-winning project resulted in the implementation of a desalination plant, helping to achieve a near-zero waste facility.