Mining is a fast-growing extractive industry and is one of the key pillars towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The benefits associated with mining and more so Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) are vast and they include: creation of local employment opportunities, generation of revenues and profits for the communities and the countries as well as infrastructural development. However, mining ranks high on the list of industries that contribute immensely to environmental degradation. The negative impacts that are as a result of mining operations include the production of radioactive elements, loss of topsoil, air pollution, water pollution and land pollution in the form of high rates of deforestation and destruction of farmlands. Mining has immense benefits but these benefits must not come at cost of the environment.
Mining And The Green Econom
The mining industry is one of the industries with potential to become a partner in the achievement of SDGs. It is for this reason that stakeholders in the mining sector globally must reexamine their current approaches and methods and develop new ones that lead to environmental sustainability and human wellbeing. As a result, what is dabbed “The Green Economy” must become an integral part of all undertakings in mining
What is Green Economy?
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) defines a green economy as one which is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. The resulting effects of a green economy include improved human well-being, environmental safety and social equity
Why Green Economy in Mining?
The negative impacts of mining activities are alarming thus necessitating the need for effective and efficient regulation mechanisms that allow mining to go on but in a sustainable and responsible manner. In recent decades, the application of the green economy in mining has become a strategic priority for governments all over the world.
How can we integrate the Green Economy in Mining?
- Recycling – This will help reduce waste and generate new products thus encouraging sustainability
- The innovation of energy efficient technologies and equipment
- Normalize the use of renewable energy sources such as solar energy, hydro energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, biomass energy and tidal energy
- Development and implementation of policies that support green economy as an integral element of mining and the institution of strong environmental protection policies
- Commitment by the mining industry stakeholder most especially mining companies and local miners to respect, preserve and conserve the environment in areas where their mining operations are carried out
- Additionally, monitoring mechanisms should be established to ensure responsible extraction, the use of clean and renewable energy sources and, the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly technologies
The integration of mining and the green economy will cause a ripple effect that will potentially lead to benefits on a global scale. These benefits include
- Poverty reduction due to the creation of employment opportunities
- Global reduction in carbon emissions which will reduce the rates of climate change
- Zero hunger as land pollution effects are reversed and better practices established
- Overall well-being of the human population through the mitigation of air pollution
- Clean water and sanitation as water pollution is effectively dealt with
- The production of clean and affordable energy
- Boosted economic growth and foreign exchange activities
- Innovation, Invention and Infrastructural development
- Responsible consumption and production
- Mitigation of climate change impacts
- Gender mainstreaming as a result of the participation and inclusion of both genders
In conclusion, mining and the green economy are two peas in one pod; there is no one without the other. There is need for countries to integrate the green economy element into their mining sectoral activities and commit to international guidelines on the same. It is possible to reap the benefits of mining activities and maintain environmental standards at the same time. Green economy in mining is the way to go!
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