IMARC 2019: Powering the green economy with sustainable mining

New Century Resources is reprocessing the 77 million tonne tailings resource at the Century mine. Image: New Century Resources

Protest and activism led to the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne hitting global headlines this year.

The groups assembled in support of the important issue of climate change, and it is important to reflect that mining has an essential role to play in building the green economies of the future.

The global need for renewable energy has prompted an increase in demand for metals, with a single 660-kW turbine estimated to contain in the region of 800 pounds of copper.

Battery technology is also driving a rapidly growing demand for lithium, with projections for even greater demand to facilitate the arrival of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Electric cars themselves require four times the copper needed to manufacture conventional vehicles.

With minerals at the heart of the mission to tackle climate change, the importance of sustainable and environmentally aware mining is paramount.

A key challenge presented by increased levels of mining is the creation of more tailings dams to manage growing yields, structures that not only present a workforce safety risk, but a risk to the environment as well if they are not properly managed and controlled.

Recent, high-profile dam failures have focussed the industry on finding a solution to the problem, with governments and regulators calling for action.

Mining companies who fail to address their approaches to tailings dam management will face heavy fines and the potential for licenses to operate being removed.

Inmarsat has developed the Tailings Dam Monitoring Solution to give mining companies complete visibility of their facilities, across entire estates, wherever they are on the planet.

The solution delivers critical data to engineers in real-time via a single cloud dashboard, enabling improved decision making that protects workforces and the environment from harm.

Built with sensor technology and connected by our global satellite network, the solution is operational at all times.

Encouragingly, a major trend I saw at IMARC 2019 among mining companies was a dedication to corporate social responsibility.

Industry leaders are united by the cause of responsible mining, and determined to address the issue of tailings dam management on a global basis.

Joe Carr is INMARSAT Enterprise director of mining innovation.

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