Responsible mining

Description Mining will always impact the environment. There are, however, ways in which mining impacts can be minimized and methods which allow for recovery up to a certain degree. This can be done by smart mine design that incorporates potential post-mining use and mitigation measures during operations.

What is the issue? Most prevalent in the HoB is open pit coal mining (due to the relatively shallow location of the deposits), while gold is mined mostly from the rivers. Since non-alluvial deposits are often found together with copper, renewed interest is emerging in open-cast mining.

Habitat loss, watershed and soil degradation, erosion, land subsidence, dust, social issues, degradation of water quality , hazardous waste are common problems related to mining. Coal is transported over long distances, adding to CO2 emissions and fragmenting habitats.

In addition, transshipment facilities are inefficient, resulting in more environmental damage. Gold is sometimes mined illegally in the HoB with the use of mercury, severely endangering human and aquatic life.

Who is the seller? Mining companies/ illegal miners

Who is the buyer?Mostly electricity suppliers (coal power plants) or other industries requiring coal for energy in their production processes, such as cement plants, asphalt factories or chemical plants.

Steps towards
successful business model
  • Improve the quality of environmental impact assessments (EIA) and ensure they meet international standards;
  • Build capacity of local government to participate in the EIA process;
  • Enforce the implementation of environmental monitoring and management plans;
  • Require industries that use coal to show certificates of origin to impede illegal mining;
  • Invest in new technologies that allow power generation from low-carbon coal to increase efficiency of coal use;
  • Invest in research on renewable energy to make it competitive with coal;
  • Invest in underground mining.
What can Banks/investors do?
  • Uphold guidelines such as those prepared by the World Bank11 and require any mining initiative funded to adhere to them;
  • Development banks such as the World Bank can aid local capacity building to properly monitor mining operations.

What can the private sector do?
  • Use the EIA as intended, carefully mitigating as much as possible impacts on water use and quality, wastes, hazardous materials (in case of gold mining), land use and biodiversity, air quality, noise and vibrations, energy use and visual impacts;
  • Require buyers of gold, and industries and electricity suppliers who use coal, to show certificates of origin to impede illegal mining;
  • Invest in more efficient transportation systems;
  • Invest in underground mining;
  • Invest in corporate social responsibility (CSR).
What can the Government do? National:
  • Strengthen enforcement of current regulations (incl. EIA);
  • Expand capacity to monitor compliance with regulations.
  • Strengthen enforcement of current regulations (incl. EIA);
  • Expand capacity to monitor compliance with regulations;
  • Ensure that all mining concessions complete a mine closure plan.
Contribution to… Securing natural capital: Preventing the worst forms of degradation.

Poverty alleviation: Creates jobs, infrastructure and capacity if tied into local economies.

Economic growth: Can generate job opportunities, qualified workforce and capacity if tied into local economies.