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Think tank tackles myth of green mining

18 Aug 2017 - 13:15
Karin Ireton explains her point at a discussion on putting into operation the UN Global Sustainable Development Goals. Also in picture are table facilitator Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga (middle), head, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) South Africa,

Think tank tackles myth of green mining

Sustainability is key to the survival of the mining sector worldwide. But is green mining a pipe dream, or can the industry shift into a transformed and more sustainable paradigm? These questions absorbed participants during a recent one-day interactive workshop at UCT, an event hosted by the UCT and AngloGold Ashanti partnership and coordinated by UCT’s Minerals to Metals Initiative with Mineral Law in Africa.

Spearheaded by a UCT–AngloGold Ashanti partnership team comprising Professor Dee Bradshaw, adjunct professors Brian Chicksen and Caroline Digby, Professor Hanri Mostert, Herman Meyer and Associate Professor Jennifer Broadhurst, this event brought together leaders and experts from industry, business, government, civil society and academia. Included in the programme was mining artist Jeannette Unite, who collects waste and minerals from smelters, slime ponds, mine dumps and heritage sites to make her own paint and pastels.

The day was an opportunity for postgraduate students and young career researchers from the Minerals to Metals Initiative and Mineral Law in Africa to introduce their own innovative research, what Executive Director of Research Dr Marilet Sienaert described as “disruptive ways of thinking”.

“This [workshop] creates a hub of activity for postgraduates, our thought leaders of the future,” she said.

New frontiers

The various sessions and breakaways examined key sustainability issues: economic diversification of mining land and infrastructure; integrated water and waste management for mining operations; resilience of local communities; green finance and innovation as a driver of change; ethical leadership in mining; post-mining transformation; and putting into operation the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Beyond the traditional approach of presentations and panel discussions, all participants were deeply engaged in round-table strategic conversations on each of the issues, using new thinking to address current and long-standing problems.