The measures used for sustaining or even enhancing these environmental components are the ‘building blocks’ of environmental management, about which much information exists.
Much of the focus of environmental management aims to protect valuable environmental attributes and to rehabilitate damage caused as a direct or indirect result of development. Such rehabilitation usually aims to reestablish the landscape and biota that were present prior to mining. While some mining operations can be totally rehabilitated, there are others where part of the project “footprint”, usually the “final void”, is not amenable to rehabilitation. Where significant environmental attributes are involved, the permanent damage sustained in this “residual footprint” may be compensated for by means of “environmental offsets”. A typical example of an environmental offset in a forested ecosystem is the reestablishment of forest (by the mining company) on land degraded by others, over an area exceeding that occupied by the final void, thereby providing a net benefit to the environment.
Biodiversity is one significant environmental attribute that frequently features as an issue for mining developments. While biodiversity has several components, it is species diversity that draws the most attention and, in particular the potential that one or more mining projects could contribute to the extinction of one or more plant or animal species. Interestingly, despite mankind having been implicated in the extinction of hundreds of species of biota, there is no documented evidence that any species have disappeared due to mining. However, as mines are becoming larger and are being developed in new environments, the possibility of loss of biodiversity due to mining must be addressed. Again however, there is often the potential that mining, through the research that it sponsors and through environmental offsets, can actually improve habitats used by threatened or endangered species, thereby lessening their vulnerability to extinction. A good example is bauxite mining in the Darling Range of Western Australia where the Jarrah Forest ecosystem and many of its endemic species were being threatened by Jarrah Dieback Disease well before mining commenced. Research, sponsored in part by mining companies including Alcoa, has led to improved forest management practices, and the extensive rehabilitated mined areas now represent some of the healthiest and most diverse areas of upland forest.As the professional manufacturer of complete sets of mining machinery, such as dryer machine, Henan Hongxing is always doing the best in products and service.
Criteria for sustainability from the viewpoint of the environment could include:
• Conservation and/or re-establishment of representative vegetation communities and habitat types, particularly those associated with threatened or endangered species;
• No permanent net loss of valuable environmental attributes;
• Maintenance of hydrologic functions necessary for maintenance of ecosystems;
• Avoidance of pollution that could exceed the assimilative capacity of the receiving environment.
While there may be circumstances where individual projects cannot meet the objectives of sustainability, the state-of-the-art for environmental management and mine closure is now such that sustainability has become achievable in most situations.
For a mining project to be sustainable means that it meets the requirements of its major stakeholders including shareholders, employees,governments, local communities, financial institutions and the environment. The best outcomes occur when the needs and aspirations of thesestakeholders are aligned. Then, all are working for the same objectives and all share in the benefits. However, if one of these stakeholder groupsis too greedy and succeeds in obtaining a disproportionate share of benefits, then the sustainability of the entire project will be jeopardised.
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