The mining value chain plays a vital role in sustaining a circular economy, says mining executive and former De Beers Botswana CEO Sheila Khama.
She explains, during a video interview with Zambian mining lobby organisation Mining for Zambia, that because mineral resources are finite, closer attention needs to be paid to recycling the currently available commodities to ensure they remain in the value chain.
“I see the circular economy as part of the mining value chain.”
However, to remain in the value chain when mines do eventually reach the end of their feasible resources, she says some may consider redefining themselves.
If she was in charge of an iron-ore mining operation, for instance, Khama says she might think that, a hundred years from now, the available iron may no longer be available underground but “it will be in concrete buildings that are being brought down, and I will be reclaiming this, and I will henceforth be selling scrap iron.”
This is how mining companies can remain part of the value chain, she suggests.
“In my view, they must embrace it [assumingly, recycling] because it stands to reason that when you are dealing with a finite resource that your single most important preoccupation is where the next [available resource] is coming from. The next one is going to be recycled,” says Khama.
Secondly, she says, recycling “is the responsible thing to do”, because it slows down demand for the raw material and it shifts that demand to the recycling sector. “More importantly, it brings the consumer into the [circular] loop.”
Further, consumers of products also need to remain cognisant of where their products came from, how they were made and the raw materials that went into them and should practise responsible buying as such, Khama alludes.
“The circular economy is important in this way because it reminds the consumer that they are part of that cycle of problems.”