The Importance of Environmental Management in Mining
A mine will always impact the environment, but the question is to what degree?
The responsible management of natural resources and ecosystems such as soils, plants, animals, water and air, and the services they provide, is central to the efforts of any society seeking to become more sustainable.
The Intergovernmental Forum on Mining “IGF” has identified four issues that governments could effectively manage to reach sustainability goals.
- Water Management
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
- Mine Waste Management
- Emergency Preparedness
These four key issues are critical for governments and communities to consider to ensure mining and the environment can coexist for the benefit of all.
Issue #1: Water Management
According to the IGF, U.S. mining operations used 5,526 million cubic meters of water, amounting to 1% of the country’s total water use in 2015.
Mining is a very water intensive industry. In mineral processing, slurry transport, dust suppression, and to meet the water needs of employees, large-scale mining operations use significant amounts of groundwater and surface water across the mine life cycle.
Mining operations need water to process ore and run camp operations. Mines also need to manage water that comes in contact with operations, through rainfalls and runoff.
The protection of water resources applies to both surface and groundwater, and these water resources are increasingly under strain due to:
- Climate change
- Variable precipitation
- Growing populations, increased industrial and agricultural activity
Competing demands for water resources from the mining sector, agriculture, households, from other industries and sectors, and for conservation and leisure—ensure that governments will always play a critical role in water management throughout the life of a mine, not only at the site itself but across watersheds and beyond national borders.
Issue #2: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Mining projects have the potential to impact biodiversity and ecosystem services throughout their lifecycle. Understanding how mining can impact biodiversity is vital to mitigate the harmful impacts of mining on the biodiversity and ecosystem
Biodiversity delivers many benefits to their surrounding communities known as ecosystem services—and a mining project has direct and indirect impacts before, during and after mining operations on these services.
- Habitat loss
- Ecosystem fragmentation and degradation
- Water, air, soil and noise pollution
- Human migration seeking opportunities
- Increased hunting, fishing, gathering and land clearance for agriculture
- Unintentional introduction of invasive species to an ecosystem
Governments, when considering the merits of a proposed mining project, will have to weigh the economic and development needs of the country and the local community against its conservation and environmental goals.
Issue #3: Mine Waste Management
Mining moves and processes large amounts of materials to extract metals. The excess material is known as mine waste. Mine wastes can contain minerals that are reactive which could be released from the rock when it is mined, crushed, and exposed to air and water.
Mine waste makes up the largest amount of material that is mined. The strip ratio defines how much waste rock there is compared to valuable ore. For example, a 2:1 strip ratio means that mining one tonne of ore will require mining two tonnes of waste rock.
Waste management in mining is complex and incorporates a range of disciplines, including geology, geochemistry, civil engineering, and geotechnical engineering.
Waste rock storage facilities, leach pads, and tailings storage facilities are large structures that must be carefully engineered to ensure they are stable over time and the safety of workers and the public.
Governments should set international standards within their own jurisdictions to ensure the proper construction and maintenance of waste rock facilities.
Issue #4: Emergency Preparedness
Emergency preparedness involves understanding the likelihood of an emergency situation and its potential consequences, taking proactive action to prevent the hazard, preparing to mitigate emergency effects, responding appropriately, communicating effectively, and recovering afterwards.
This relates to:
- Industrial emergencies
- Natural and climate-related disasters
- Health emergencies
- Political and security risk
Governments have a strong role to play in emergency preparedness, ensuring that responses are swift, organized and coordinated, and that all relevant stakeholders, from local communities to staff, are safe and protected.
Resources and Communities
Mineable deposits occur in both convenient and inconvenient places, close to or distant from communities, close to or distant from water sources, and close or distant from farm land or ecologically sensitive areas.
Mining will always have an impact. The active and sustainable management of these natural resources before, during, and after mining will help to avoid negative impacts where possible and could even mean excluding mining.
A failure to manage the four issues of mining on the environment can threaten the viability of operations, but can also undermine the relationships between a mining company, affected communities, and all levels of government.
The Intergovernmental Forum on Mining “IGF” is creating the policy framework to address the importance of environmental management in mining.
Visualizing the Rise of Cryptocurrency Transactions
As cryptocurrency transactions rise, merchants are looking to position themselves to take advantage of this new wave of crypto spenders.
Visualizing the Rise of Cryptocurrency Transactions
After Bitcoin and cryptocurrency’s wild bull run in late 2020 and early 2021, many holders are now using cryptocurrencies for their intended purpose: payments.
Every day, approximately $12 billion are transferred across the Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin blockchains, with millions of people using cryptocurrency for payments daily.
This graphic sponsored by CoinPayments looks at the rising transactions of the Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin networks.
Cryptocurrency Transactions are Rising in Value and Number
While prices are often the focus when crypto is in the spotlight, transaction counts show how much a network is being used as a medium of exchange. In just over five years, daily transactions across the Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin networks increased sixfold, from just 250,000 to more than 1.5 million transactions a day.
In mid-2017, Ethereum overtook Bitcoin in daily transactions as ETH was necessary to participate in ICOs (initial coin offerings), which fueled much of the speculation in the 2017 price run. With Ethereum still hosting thousands of ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens on its blockchain today, its transaction counts have grown to be much higher compared to Bitcoin and Litecoin’s.
Along with crypto’s rising transaction numbers, the average USD value per transaction has increased by a minimum of 4x over the past five years.
|Year||Average Value per Bitcoin Transaction||Average Value per Ethereum Transaction||Average Value per Litecoin Transaction|
Source: Coin Metric
2021 figures as of July 13th, 2021
Crypto Spenders are Searching for Merchants
As transaction counts and values rise, merchants play a vital part in pushing forward the adoption of digital currencies for payments.
Many cryptocurrency users consider merchant adoption as a key barometer of success for crypto adoption. While companies like AT&T, Namecheap, and Overstock already accept crypto payments, there are still many businesses around the world which don’t offer cryptocurrency as a method of payment.
In a survey of over 8,000 U.S. consumers, 66.7% of crypto owners and 54.2% of non-owners said that not enough merchants accept cryptocurrency. Along with this, 47% of crypto owners said they seek out merchants that accept crypto for purchases, indicating clear demand for more crypto-accepting businesses.
How Can Merchants Make the Most of the Crypto Boom?
As the world embraces crypto, merchants need the in-store and online tools to be part of this next wave of commerce. Accepting crypto opens merchants up to an untapped audience of new consumers, eager to spend their crypto.
CoinPayments makes it easy to start accepting crypto payments at online checkout and with POS systems, with features like auto-coin conversion and over 2,000 coins supported.
Find out more about how the crypto market is growing, adapting to consumer needs, and the opportunity it presents to merchants around the world.
Visualizing the Economic Impact of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle
British Columbia’s Golden Triangle generates massive revenue and investments for the province, but where did it all begin?
The Economic Impact of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle
At the heart of British Columbia’s mining industry lies the Golden Triangle. This region has helped transform the province’s mining industry into a significant source of revenue and investment.
In 2020, the Golden Triangle accounted for roughly 44% of the $422 million in mineral exploration expenditures in British Columbia. In 2019, the Red Chris and Brucejack mines contributed around $1 billion to the province’s estimated annual gross mining revenues.
This infographic is sponsored by the B.C. Regional Mining Alliance (BCRMA) which brings the best of this region to the world through a partnership between indigenous groups, industry, and provincial government representatives.
Here is how the Golden Triangle began.
The Golden Triangle’s Unique Geology
Between 220 and 175 million years ago, the Golden Triangle’s wealth was forming deep in the Earth for the world to discover. Most metal deposits form from superheated water that cycle over many kilometers, collecting metal atoms as they rise to the surface of the Earth’s crust and settle into deposits.
Industry, government, and university geologists have worked for over a century to understand the Golden Triangle’s unique geology to uncover its mineral wealth. This unique geology cradles the world-class deposits that define the legendary “Golden Triangle” of British Columbia.
A History of Discovery and Mining in the Golden Triangle
Historical gold rushes brought mining to the area, but the region’s vast copper deposits will deliver the key mineral for B.C.’s green future. More than 150 mines have operated in the area since prospectors first arrived at the end of the 19th century.
- 1861: Alexander Choquette kicked off the Stikine Gold Rush after finding gold at the confluence of the Stikine and Anuk Rivers.
- 1918 – 1952: The first big discovery in the Golden Triangle was at the Premier Gold Mine, which started operations in 1918. It produced 2 million ounces of gold and 45 million ounces of silver. Today, Ascot Resources is re-starting processing from this gold mine.
- 1964: The Snip Mine was discovered by Cominco but the deposit stayed dormant until 1986. The mine produced approximately 1 million ounces of gold from 1991 until 1999. Today, Skeena Resources is advancing the Snip Project.
- 1994: Eskay became Canada’s highest-grade gold mine and the world’s fifth largest silver producer, with production above 3 million ounces of gold and 160 million ounces of silver. Skeena Resources is also bringing the Eskay mining back into production.
- 2009: The discovery of the Brucejack gold and silver deposit led to the development of an underground mine. The mine has produced 1,230,644 ounces of gold since it began operations in 2017.
- 2013: The KSM Project is one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world. A Preliminary Feasibility Study estimates proven and probable reserves total 38.8 million ounces of gold and 10.2 billion pounds of copper.
- 2015: The Red Chris shipped its first load of copper concentrate. In 2020 metals production was 88.3 million pounds copper and 73,787 ounces gold. Imperial Metals and Newcrest jointly operate the mine.
This long tradition of discovery and mining is laying the foundations for the next generation of investment.
Today’s Golden Age for Exploration and Development
Continued exploration is necessary for new discoveries and advancing projects to new mines. More importantly, the minerals discovered today will be needed in the low carbon economy and British Columbia—in particular, the Golden Triangle will play its part in delivering metals for renewable technology.
|British Columbia||Northwest Mining Region||The Golden Triangle|
|Average Expenditure Per Project||$1.6M||$3.4M||$7.09M|
Source: Based on data collected for the EY LLP, 2020 British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey
Gold and copper account for most of the exploration in the Golden Triangle, but other commodities for the low-carbon economy such as silver, nickel, and zinc also attract interest. A strong exploration industry is the beginning for future investment, new jobs, and community development.
A Bright Future: Investing in Community
The Golden Triangle continues to attract exploration activity as infrastructure and community development lays the success for future generations and industries.
- Agreements with First Nations (Tahltan and Nisga’a Nations)
- 38% of expenditures stays in the region
- 97% stays in British Columbia
- 150+ communities benefit
- The paving of the Stewart-Cassiar highway
- The opening of ocean port facilities for concentrate export at Stewart
- The completion of a $700-million high-voltage transmission line bringing power into the region
This is a new beginning for the continued economic impact of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle.
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