Mining and sustainability: asking the right questions

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Journal Article
Minerals Engineering, 2012, 29 (March), pp. 3 - 12
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Attempts to pursue sustainability in the minerals sector have largely focused on reducing impacts at mining and processing sites. The Mineral Resources Landscape (Cooper and Giurco, 2011), offers an expanded conceptualisation of minerals sustainability, spanning production, consumption and recycling and connecting social, ecological, technological, economic and governance domains, across local and global scales. By mapping issues and impacts, the Minerals Resources Landscape makes explicit the disconnect between externalised impacts and the potential leverage points where they can be addressed. This paper applies the Mineral Resources Landscape to map stakeholder concerns for the case of deep sea mining in Australia. It found that in exploring the future use of this technology to meet growing resource demand, the potential role of dematerialisation and recycling were overlooked. The paper concludes with reflections on the usefulness of the approach for citizens, companies and governments.
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