Over the past 10-15 years, I’ve been working at the crossroads of what could be two very distinct career paths. Both necessary for our ways of living, and also for our future generations. These are mining, and sustainability.
These two worlds don’t often go hand in hand. Sustainability isn’t a term that initially comes to mind when one thinks of mining, no matter how responsibly or respectfully it is carried out, and no matter how well rehabilitated the land may be afterwards.
After all, the whole premise behind mining is to disturb nature, in order to dig up a non-renewable resource. Tremendous amounts of energy, and often water too, are consumed to excavate, crush, process and refine materials in order to extract a small fraction of precious ore out of a mass of rock once below the surface of the earth. And piles of waste rock and tailings are formed, to remain forever on an altered landscape.
But the reality is that natural resources are required in the world we now live, and demand for them is only growing over time. Nearly everything we touch has required a non-renewable resource to be extracted at some point in time.
So, knowing this, my vision is to alter the way in which we look at industrial developments such as these. To begin to view them from a lifecycle perspective and avoid risks of both short and long term environmental damage or negative social impact, to avoid as much disturbance as possible, and to ensure that the maximum value - from all materials excavated - can be derived from the efforts of the development at hand. Add the production of value-add products in a process that can accommodate recovery and recycling of used resources, and it is even better. A leaner, circular mining perspective to serve a greater purpose than simply ore extraction.
For the business of mining, these two latter points are a massive shift in thinking, in strategy. I believe this would require a significant amount of collaboration, too - something that is cautiously approached in a risk-averse business sector.
For me, it is a massive movement to initiate, to propel. Particularly when mining is so slow to accept change. Particularly when so many experts within the world of sustainability, who could help in so many ways, are not always keen to support developments such as those within mining.
I’m not saying I’m alone in my thinking - but people need to come together and open their minds to new possibilities.
So when it comes to challenges, these are mine:
- Gaining a loud enough, respected voice, to bring major forces to work together.
- Maintaining the confidence to continue in the face of adversity, when doubts or objections are raised.
- Finding the means to support this passion project of mine, so that I may continue on this journey until there is a greater, cooperative movement, that keeps it all going when I can no longer.
What can I do about these challenges? Carry on as I have, I suspect. Continue to gain the necessary knowledge and influencing skills so that my voice is heard, and actions begin to occur.
I’m ever the optimist, so I tend not to worry too much about how it will happen - I am confident things will change over time...I just hope they happen soon.
Would you be willing to help to move it forward?
This blog post was written in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1