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Sustainable mining: an inherent contradiction in terms?

January 5, 2015

Sustainable mining: an inherent contradiction in terms?

Ucilia Wang
Monday 5 January 2015 19.50 GMT

Mining conjures up an ugly environmental image. Companies dig deep into the earth and use large amounts of energy and water to extract, process and transport minerals, leaving behind a devastating impact.

That image has come to define the mining industry, and it’s increasingly hurting its ability to make money. Now a new group is working to remake that reputation by changing some of the industry’s practices.

A white paper issued by the Kellogg Innovation Network at Northwestern University last month outlines key issues and ways to tackle them. The white paper is meant to serve as a framework to inspire more mining companies to develop sustainable projects that could also boost their profits.

In particular, it focuses on building good relationships with local communities most heavily impacted by mining operations. But it also pinpoints some of the significant troubles the mining industry faces as it seek to expand into more remote areas of the map.

Keeping tabs of the mining industry’s progress in adopting more sustainable approaches should be in everyone’s interest. The raw materials extracted by mining companies are powering the world’s growing population and its dependence on gadgets and other technologies. The industry supports roughly 45% of the world’s economic activities, according to the white paper. Yet it’s impossible to carry out large-scale mining without leaving social and environmental scars.

Read more at The Guardian.

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