Mining companies are taking an increasingly leading role in improving sustainability across the industry, and a proactive approach towards ensuring long-term sustainability, says engineering, procurement and construction services provider Black & Veatch chief technical officer Dennis Gibson.
“This is a global drive that is equally important across all African mining jurisdictions,” he tells Mining Weekly.
He advises, however, that f or mining operations to effectively operate in the current environment, they need to take heed of social, environmental and economic sustainability in mining.
Gibson says modernised mining businesses regard sustainable practices as a fundamental component of planning and development, and that they are incorporating these practices into all decision- making processes.
While mining operations across Africa are using fossil fuel-based sources for a significant portion of their power generation needs, “there is a notable opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of the mining industry on the continent”. “Technologies, such as solar photovoltaic, hydro and wind – coupled with energy storage solutions – can deliver reliable and clean energy.”
He further stresses that, in a region where electricity constraints and water shortages are still prevalent, it is critical that mining houses plan for contingencies to ensure uninterrupted operations. “Using energy and water more efficiently can also generate sustainability benefits.”
Gibson and Black & Veatch senior VP Jim Spenceley further suggest that growth in the industry will be underpinned by the fundamental shift in social pressure for a more sustainable future. They add that technology, smart infrastructure and innovative transportation solutions that drive demand for commodities will be key factors in achieving profitable growth and sustainable development long term.
As part of its Enterprise Sustainability offering, which helps enterprises make important decisions and implement programmes aligned to their sustainability goals, Black & Veatch’s experience in building and improving power and water infrastructure networks enables it to work with clients seeking more resilient sustainable and flexible systems.
Spenceley says the company aims to become a trusted partner in sustainable mining for African mining clients by providing critical power, water and telecommunications infrastructure solutions. The company’s global footprint features more than 100 offices worldwide, with projects that have been completed on six continents.
Black & Veatch attended this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba – held last month, in Cape Town – for the third time, which Gibson says was “noticeably more positive and optimistic in sentiment” with regard to the mining industry as a whole.