Geological Survey of Finland

Green Mining

Green Mining concept promotes material and energy efficiency

Improving the material and energy efficiency of mining operations reduces the environmental footprint caused during product life cycles. To achieve this, methods that save energy and materials for quarrying and for the enrichment of minerals are being developed. The purpose of these new solutions is to allow the utilisation of all usable minerals and by-products and to minimize the amount of waste. Solutions for reducing raw water and energy consumption are being developed. In order to achieve a result that is best for the entire operation, we have to have a reliable way of measuring the material and energy efficiency and the environmental footprint during the life cycle.

Ensures availability of mineral resources for future needs

Sustainable development requires that our current use of mineral resources does not endanger the ability of future generations to satisfy their needs. Mines excavate and enrichen economically viable ore deposits. Although individual deposits are non-renewable, the mineral resources in the Earth’s crust are in no danger of running out. Price increases, as well as developing technology are creating the preconditions for utilising new ore discoveries and for starting to use replacement raw materials. The primary deposits utilised in the future will often be located deeper in the earth or in places that otherwise make their utilisation difficult. They will be weaker in their concentration or their enrichment will be more difficult. In order to ensure the availability of mineral resources for future needs and to fulfil the so-called “mineral debt”, we must continue mineral exploration actively and develop our exploration and utilisation methods. The lifetime for minerals and metals in many applications is long. In addition, they can be recycled. This creates a good basis for prolonging the life cycle of raw materials. Often raw materials can also be replaced by other elements or compounds with similar properties.

Minimizes adverse environmental and social impacts

Mining operations impact the natural environment, economy and social structure of the region. The goal of sustainable mining is to minimise the adverse environmental and social impacts in all the stages of the operations. At the same time, the operations strive to maximize social and local benefits. Minimising the adverse environmental impacts requires developing and testing better control and measurement methods that take into consideration the special characteristics of mining operations and the local natural conditions. Maximising the societal, economical, social and cultural impacts in a sustainable way requires research, communication and methods that allow broad-based community participation. Participation is especially important on the regional level, because that way the corporate social responsibility of the mines can be executed in the best possible way.

Improves work and organisational practices

A lot of technology and heavy machinery is used in mining, which increases potential safety hazards. Work must be organised in a way that it is safe and meaningful to employees. This can be achieved by automating processes and making them more efficient, as well as by developing new practices and working methods in cooperation with the entire staff. Occupational safety is an important starting point in all development work. Operations must also be safe to local residents and the environment. Increasing automation and developing technologies helps to reduce the need for a workforce and will improve safety in the near future in so-called smart mines. The mining organisation will become lighter and most operations will be executed in mines and enrichment plants using remote control.

Ensures sustainable land use following mine closure

The operation time for individual mines is limited. After that, the mining areas will be restored to make them safe and to allow other kinds of land use.  Planning the controlled ending of mining operations and proper measures for achieving this are started well before commencing mining operations and they are be developed throughout the project’s life cycle with the broad-based participation of local residents and other stakeholders. Closure of a mine also requires functional and tested technical and scientific methods, so that the quarries, waste areas and other infrastructure can be restored in a way that allows further sustainable use of the area according to plans.

 

Page URL: http://en.gtk.fi/mineral_resources/greenmining.html

Page created: 2017/07/22