Life-of-resource sustainability considerations for mining

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Civil Engineering, 2012, 10 (1), pp. 47 - 56
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Mining in Australia is booming. Notwithstanding, production conditions are progressively transitioning from the mining of "cheaper, easily accessible and higher quality ores" to "lower grade, more remote, complex and expensive ores". Sustainability discussions in the minerals industry have largely sought to improve the social and environmental performance of individual operations, including planning for closure. However, the national implications of a change in the circumstances underpinning the current prosperity of mining are underexplored. This paper uses a peak minerals metaphor to map "life-of-resource" environmental and social considerations, pre- and post-peak production, at local and national scales. An examination of how the social and environmental impacts change, over the life of a resource's extraction, is used to inform strategies for the role of technological and policy innovation in underpinning long-term national benefit from minerals in Australia. © Institution of Engineers Australia, 2012.
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