Creating a circular economy in the mining sector

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Sustainability is fast becoming the norm for businesses and industries. The days of linear economies are coming to an end; the take-make-use-dispose method of consumption is slowly being phased out in favour of more sustainable methods. The mining industry is no exception. It, too, is evolving and starting to use circular methods of consumption through restorative and regenerative business practices.Circularity is more than just recycling and reusing waste materials. But mining inherently relies on using finite natural resources, so how can it become more sustainable? The answer lies in how the industry reuses these resources, repurposes its waste and lowers emissions through greener sources of energy.However, achieving a circular economy requires the mining sector to re-engineer its value and supply chains to keep its resources in use for as long as possible. Products that have reached the end of their lives can be repurposed and pushed back into the beginning stages of the circular economy model in order to boost the economy and retain the inherent value of the waste.

Minimising waste in the mining industry

Mining and metals companies around the world are facing numerous challenges, as outlined by a recent Accenture report titled Mining New Value from the Circular Economy. These companies can unlock billions of dollars by repurposing waste as a valuable resource. A failure to embrace the circular economy will put mining companies at risk of falling behind in these innovative business practices.Mines need to look at ways of repurposing their waste for the benefit of other business processes. By reintroducing waste to the resource pool, mines can reduce their waste management costs and save money on fuel and other inputs. Waste can be used as a bountiful source of energy for the production of electricity and firing kilns. Many of the circular economy models in the mining sector to date have been focussed on recycling water, extracting value from by-products and repurposing waste, such as old tyres for numerous purposes. Not all mining companies are well-positioned to monetise these waste sources and capitalise from recycling initiatives. These companies need to think laterally and adapt before they are left behind in this changing world.Taking the first steps towards a circular economy today will help mining companies to better position themselves for success in the future. It will allow them to build long-term resilience and generate income from waste resources. The environmental and social benefits of a circular economy will also enable mines to access business in the future.___Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment. ___By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries. ___Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the best tips on recycling and the latest industry news. See our Instagram and YouTube channels for more insights into environmental affairs and our work with local communities.