African mining companies are showing a commitment towards creating a more sustainable mining industry, says engineering, procurement and construction services provider Black & Veatch chief technical officer Dennis Gibson.

Sustainability in the mining industry

“This is a global drive that is equally important across all African mining jurisdictions,” Gibson tells Mining Weekly. Mining is an economic backbone in many African countries. As such, creating a sustainable mining industry is essential for the future of mining and maintaining African economies.

Importantly, however, he emphasizes that going forward, the future of mining sustainably requires companies to take heed of environmental, social and economic sustainability in mining. According to Gibson and Black & Veatch senior VP Jim Spenceley, an increase in social pressures on mining companies and business will help strengthen the call for sustainable mining methods.

According to Gibson, modernized mining companies are making a concerted effort towards making sustainable practices a fundamental component of planning and development, with many of them incorporating these fundamentals into their decision-making processes.

However, there is still a ways to go. Taking in the African continent’s uneven access to electricity and prevalence of water shortages, mining companies need to turn towards more sustainable means to encourage uninterrupted operations. Fossil-fuel based power sources are still heavily relied on in the continent. Gibson argues that “there is a notable opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of the mining industry on the continent”. He further says that “Technologies, such as solar photovoltaic, hydro and wind – coupled with energy storage solutions – can deliver reliable and clean energy.” He continues to say that, “Using energy and water more efficiently can also generate sustainability benefits.”

Spenceley and Gibson state that  technology, smart infrastructure and innovative transportation solutions that drive demand for commodities will be key factors in achieving profitable growth and sustainable development long term.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!