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Responsible Management

In the past, miners were heralded as heroes, breaking new ground, discovering exciting minerals and ways to apply those discoveries to better the lives and the standard of living of all who occupy the Earth. Mining activiities have provided wealth and improved the quality of living for countries rich in natural resouces. Over the years those heroes have increasingly come under the scrutiny of environmentalists and activists lobbying against the depletion and destruction of the Earth’s natural resources.

Mining organisations truly want to establish cohesive working opportunities with all, ensuring a continuity of sustainable developments  will not negatively impact future generations. The Australian Government is committed to work with the mining industry to set policies and procedures in responsible mining. As a result of government and industry working together, Australia enjoys one of the safest, cleanest, and most productive mining sector in the world. 

Australia’s Mineral Wealth

The following information is taken from This is Our Story, a wonderfully informative site:

“The mineral reserves of Australia are vast, diverse, and of high quality. A spirit of dynamic innovation in the development of new extraction and processing technologies is also ensuring the nation gains the most from this natural wealth.

Australia is the world's leading producer of bauxite and iron ore; the second largest producer of alumina, lead and manganese; the third largest producer of brown coal, gold, nickel, zinc and uranium; the fourth largest producer of aluminium, black coal and silver; and the fifth largest producer of tin. The nation not only exports raw materials: it is arguably the world's top supplier of mining technologies and services. At least 60 per cent of the world's mines operate with Australian-made and designed software.”

The Principles Of Responsible Mining

The Australian Government have laid out the basic principles of responsible mining; these being:

Sustainable Development – The practice of meeting human needs while preserving the environment - not only for now but for future generations.

Geoscience Australia is an approved agency within the Resources, Energy and Tourism portfolio. They are ideally the information gatherers and are committed to exploring resources, determining the environmental impact of mining the resources, providing solutions and proposals to the management of the environment, studying the safety of infrastructures and operations used in the mining process and determine the overall effect and wellbeing of Australians by proposed mining productions.

Environmental Management Systems is a structured approach to managing the environmental aspects of a project and is a major demonstrator to practicing due diligence.

Efficiency – It is requested all mining companies strive to become more efficient in their energy and water usages as well as incorporate recycling measures to reduce waste. By reducing, reusing and recycling waste, pressure is taken off our already overtaxed Earth.

Precaution, Accountability and Transparency – The Australian government has the right to refuse a proposal of development and to create regulations and environmental “watchdogs” to prevent any environmental damage from occurring in designated developmental mining sites. Mining companies are to disclose their operational procedures and be open to independent monitoring.

From PIRSA Minerals:

“The Mining Regulation and Rehabilitation Branch of PIRSA regulates all operating mine and quarry sites. Each mining operation has a PIRSA Mining Compliance officer who is responsible for ensuring the site is operated in compliance with Lease conditions and its Mining and Rehabilitation Program (MARP). Appropriate documentation is required to be prepared and submitted to PIRSA for approval. The purpose of the documentation is to provide a comprehensive and detailed description of environmental, social and economic risks and benefits of the proposed operation so that stakeholders and PIRSA can make an informed, risk-based and balanced judgement about the proposed operation.”
 
Polluter Responsibility – The Australian Government has a set of pollution laws that hold corporations and individuals responsible for their role in creating pollution. Some actions carry up to a $1 million penalty and/or 7 years imprisonment. The Australian Pollution Laws can be read at aic.gov.au and laws specifically pertaining to oil pollution can be read at Findlaw.com.au

Community Consultation And Involvement
– A community-centred and not project-centred approach is required in community consultation and involvement. All social, environmental and economic aspects of the project need to be discussed with the community before any project may begin.

Job creation, skills training and any other benefits need to be highlighted. Organisations are also required to address any concerns raised by the community and maintain a flexible approach to consultations and project developments for the lifetime of the project. Community citizens have a right to participate in resource development decisions and companies are held accountable in fulfilling their obligations to any terms of agreement.

More information can be obtained from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (RET)

Equity And Equality – This means fairness in the distribution of incomes and reinvesting in the local communities where mining operations are taking place, as well as having equal rights for Indigenous communities and women. The government is committed to eliminating disparities between male and female work rights and treatments, allowing women to access well-sought after and/or dangerous jobs in the mining industry.

The RET Working in Partnership program states:

“The Indigenous Communities/Mining Industry Regional Partnership Program, now known as Working in Partnership (WIP), aims to support and encourage cultural change which is taking place in relations between Indigenous communities and the mining industry, and promote long term, effective partnerships which benefit all stakeholders. Building effective long-term relationships with Indigenous communities is now part of core business for the exploration and mining industry.

WIP is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to increase opportunities for Indigenous Australians, noting that the exploration/mining industry is one of the few providing employment and business development opportunities for remote communities.”

In essence the Australian Government is committed to upholding all human, labour, Indigenous and women’s rights as well as providing a healthy and safe environment for all workers and community members in the present and for future generations to come.

Conclusion

The Australian Government is sensitive to the environmental impact of mining and acknowledges that long-term effects could become apparent to communities, the natural resources and the landscape. Therefore, the government is focused on researching and sharing all information obtained on the impact of mining explorations and, if need be, refuse proposals where the risks outweigh the benefits.

The government ensures all laws and policies concerning the environment are adhered to, as well as ensuring that communities will not be adversely affected by mining operations. Corporations are requested to work with communities and to establish effective working environments for both females and Indigenous groups.

Should you wish for more information, visit our All you need to know section in Mining & Metals.
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