The mining industry includes searching for, extracting, and processing of minerals from the earth, which include coal, metals, and industrial minerals. As these constitute essential sources of raw materials, specifically for the chemical industry as well as for electronic products, the industry is essential to the functioning of various parts of the economy.
In numbers, the top 40 global mining companies generated revenue of 656 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.
Depleting natural resources especially concerns the mining process, which is one of the numerous reasons why sustainability is key for the survival of entire companies.
Mining operations affect the local community’s land, water, air, vegetation, and wildlife. Moreover, the safety of workers needs to be ensured as well, along with community support measures.
Overall, sustainability protects mines’ licenses to operate in many countries. But in addition to that and sustainability pressures increasing, namely, from NGOs, governments, and local communities, it can also greatly improve the operational efficiency. Therefore, it is not just a trend topic, but grants companies to keep operating and when approached correctly, can deliver many short and long-term benefits.
Several innovations have great potentials for disrupting the industry and traditional operations, and numerous companies heavily invest in and research different solutions.
When inspecting the sustainability commitment of BHP, they communicate clearly their sustainability approach: connecting their core business to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), providing their 5-year goals and performance metrics. These span dimensions such as health, safety, environment, and community.
Concretely, the goals include the development of Regional Indigenous Peoples Plans, measuring and capping their greenhouse gas emissions, reducing freshwater withdrawal, and having zero work-related fatalities.
Recognizing their impact and setting goals to improve is an essential first step for many players in the industry, but of course, the achievement of such targets is what ultimately creates positive change.
Briefly put, the mining industry faces many challenges of which most are linked to climate change’s impact on stakeholders and natural resources. However, by tackling sustainable opportunities, companies may be able to create competitive advantages and tangibly benefit the communities in which they operate.