The need and context for sustainable mineral development
M. G. Petterson, B. R. Marker, F. McEvoy, M. Stephenson, D. A. Falvey, 2005. "The need and context for sustainable mineral development", Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World, B. R. Marker, M. G. Petterson, F. McEvoy, M. H. Stephenson
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A special thematic conference was organized at the Geological Society of London in November 2003, aimed at bringing together experts in minerals development in the Developing Countries. Representatives of many aspects of mineral development attended, including mining companies, governments, aid agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academics and consultants. The opening address to the conference is given in this paper. Mining is an ancient human activity developed through essential societal demand. As society and technology have developed, they have inevitably become ever-more materials hungry. This demand will remain for the foreseeable future. Many areas of the Developed World have depleted high-grade mineral deposits, and remaining resources are subject to strong environmental constraints. This increases pressure on the Developing World to generate the mineral commodities upon which society depends. Mineral resources are also a potential source of capital over which Developing Countries can have their own decision-making powers (in contrast to aid money for example). Sustainable mineral development is all about balance. Achieving the dynamic balance between supply and demand, equitable capital distribution, good financial and environmental management and governance, economics, and social stability is the challenge the world faces in the twenty-first century and beyond.
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Sustainable Minerals Operations in the Developing World
The sustainable development of minerals, which are non-renewable resources, is a major challenge in today’s world. In this regard the true definition of sustainability’ is a debating point in itself: can such a concept exist with respect to non-renewable resources? Perhaps the ideal sustainability model is one that minimizes negative environmental impact and maximizes benefits to society, the economy and regional/national development. Developed and near-developed economies rely for commodity supplies on developing countries where major mining operations are often a mainstay of the domestic economy. Limited environmental regulation and low wages lead to charges of exploitation. Also, large numbers of people have no alternative to living by informal, often dangerous, ‘artisanal’ mining. This Special Publication gives examples from developing countries at all scales of mineral extraction. The volume reviews environmental, economic, health and social problems and highlights the need to solve these before sustainability can be achieved. The better solutions require mutual understanding, through full involvement of all stakeholders, education, training and investment so that small-scale ansd artisinal mines can grow into well-managed operations. At larger scales, most major interantional mining companies have now inoproved their practices and are monitoring their progress, although there is no room for complacency in this rapidly changing area.