How to turn miners GREEN

While it spends millions each year driving green and sustainable initiatives the mining industry is often lambasted for not doing enough for the environment. 
Sometimes the accusations are without basis, but one charge the industry finds hard to beat is its conservatism on cutting carbon. 
Mining's criticism of the Government's carbon tax is the best example on this front but a wider hesitancy toward energy is prevalent across most of the industry. 
This conservative outlook is steeped in a strong strategy that drives value for money, and doesn't commit to large projects without a solid grounding in fact. 
And according to leading sustainability strategist Martin Blake if green initiatives are pitched within the same framework they've a strong likelihood of success in the mining industry.  
In essence Blake believes the resources industry should focus on the benefit of energy efficiency rather than the impact of global warming if it's to succeed in driving sustainable initiatives. 
Blake told Australian Mining if businesses and policymakers "focused on the money" then green initiatives would have a greater likelihood of being adopted. 
"If they actually looked at energy reductions and cost savings there wouldn't be this debate about whether carbon is produced by man, or whether sea levels were rising," he said. 
"Arguing about carbon isn't the way to get businesses to do it. It's better if all of those conversations disappear." 
Blake said instead of treating green and sustainable initiatives as moves to protect the environment, they should be looked at "the same way you would any other business decision". 
Having worked with the resources industry in the Middle East, Blake said companies were keen to adopt sustainable initiatives when there was a strong business case for it. 
"When they found out how much money there was to be saved the approach was 'Whose fault is it? Why didn't we do this earlier?'," he said. 
Blake said all businesses had a 'hurdle rate' for making investments, and if a certain project did not pass a particular return on investment it was unlikely to be adopted by the company board. 
He said the key to making sustainability work was making sure green projects passed a company's standards. 
"Interestingly, the directors have a duty to their shareholders to do the project if it exceeds the corporate hurdle rate," he said. 
"You don't need legislation, you don't need to have an argument between Abbott and Gillard." 
"All you need to say is if the business case stacks up, why aren't you doing it?" 
The seemingly common sense argument is one that's still rarely used for driving sustainability in the mining sector. 
Before complaining about the lack of commitment in the business world, the sustainability sector need to make sure its offerings are worth taking up. 
"Once you show the board of a company that there is more money to be made by energy reduction than there is as just business as usual, then of course they are compelled to do it, they can see the business case," Blake says. 

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.