October 2018

Book Review: Mining and Sustainable Development

  • By Reviewed by Lisa Pereira MAusIMM, Principal Consultant, Mining Beyond Borders; Juan Ossa-Moreno MAusIMM, PhD Researcher, SMI (University of Queensland); Marc Allen MAusIMM, Technical Director, engeco; Jon Crosbie MAusIMM(CP), Senior Closure Planning Engineer, MMG

The term ‘sustainable development’ is rarely paired with the extractives sector; however, the book Mining and Sustainable Development: Current Issues (2018), edited by Sumit K Lodhia, does just that.

Mining and Sustainable Development (2018).

The book provides insight into current and historical challenges relating to the extractives sector in terms of sustainability and development from a variety of perspectives.

The book’s introductory chapter provides a description of the current context of mining and sustainable development and introduces a framework for understanding sustainability in the extractives sector. Part one of the book describes how the minerals industry could adopt industrial ecology and circular economy thinking, including the concept of product stewardship. This is complemented with a review of the social acceptance of mining, which highlights three key concepts for establishing dialogue with communities: distributional fairness, contact quality and procedural fairness.

Part two focuses on due diligence and environmental, social and human rights impacts. Environmental impact assessments (EIA) and social impact assessments (SIA) are discussed from an academic perspective, and it is explained how the latter can be used across the full lifecycle of a mine. This section also provides an analysis of human rights due diligence (HRDD) issues, and how mining companies can utilise a suite of tools to integrate human rights impact assessment (HRIA) EIA, SIA and business planning.

In part three, contemporary sustainability challenges are addressed. This includes a historical review of the relationships between mining and indigenous peoples globally, and a discussion on self-governance, environmental impacts and the distribution of benefits within this context. This section also discusses how transit worker accommodation (TCA) and long-distance commuting (LDC) should be balanced to manage the tradeoff between employees’ wellbeing, community benefits and impacts, and the business bottom line.

Part four discusses corporate sustainability approaches in the extractives sector. First, it provides a review of the history of sustainability reporting and the key international guidelines. It mentions how Australia is at the forefront of reporting, followed by a discussion on how improved third-party verification is the step to follow. This section also discusses mining taxation in developing countries, outlining how to balance fiscal objectives during the design of a taxation regime for the mining sector, and how countries can turn these revenues into tangible development outcomes.

Part five concentrates on two areas that are presented as solutions to some of the sustainability challenges facing the mining industry, including the use of renewable energy and the potential for shared infrastructure. The renewables chapter, which includes case studies from industry, determines that the industry has significant potential for use of renewable energy. Shared infrastructure is examined along with an exploration of how the mining industry can contribute to the solutions for ten of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This section provides real-world examples and case studies and is a good summary of current trends and applications.

The book provides a largely academic overview of key sustainable development issues and is at times limited in its coverage of industry examples, which reflects the ongoing challenge of improving collaboration between industry and academia on understanding and solving these issues. Overall, the book is a good summary of sustainability concepts applied to the mining industry. As the book is written by numerous authors from a variety of professional and research backgrounds, the book provides insight into current sustainability trends to a wide range of professionals, including consultants, corporate and operations staff and regulators.

Mining and Sustainable Development: Current Issues was published by Routledge in 2018 and is available for purchase in hardback and ebook formats from the publisher’s website.

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