Miners take up the carbon challenge - but only for themselves
Fear that adverse geo-physical events may negatively impact on mining operations is nothing new.
Many of the world's biggest mines are in earthquake or monsoon-prone regions. When the tsunami hit southern Asia in 2004, miners rushed to assure themselves and their investors that their operations were secure (most of them were) and their employees safe.
However, there has been general resistance on the part of the industry to concede that many such "natural" events may not be so natural after all. Rather, they are triggered by adverse climate changes, caused by increases in global greenhouse gas emissions.
A recent Canadian study shows that some miners are now aware of this.
Unfortunately, there is still precious little acknowledgment by the industry that its own activities may weaken infrastructure (as in deep underground caving); destroy vital vegetation (as with hill top or coastal extraction); and dry up surface or underground water sources - all of which compound the human and ecological losses caused by adverse climate change.
Then, what of the direct contributions, made by that industry, to the very phenomena it now claims to be addressing?
Between them, coal extractors, steel and aluminium manufacturers and cement kiln operators, are the biggest bunch of industrial global greenhouse gas emitters.
It's all very well to counsel such companies to get their house in order by taking greater heed of their own carbon "footprint."
But it's the damaging foot prints they're making over the rest of the planet with which millions of the rest of us are concerned.
[Comment by Nostromo Research, 29 August 2009]
Climate change having an impact on mining operations: study
Financial Post (Canada)
19 August 2009
Climate change is already having an impact on Canadian mining operations, according to a study released Wednesday by the David Suzuki Foundation, which also points to ways the industry can adapt to changing conditions.
"We spoke with mining stakeholders from across Canada and found a significant number believe that climate change is already having a negative impact on their operations," says Jason Prno, a mining researcher who co- authored the report.
The study looked at mining industry trends in relation to the impact climate change is having on operations, the industry's efforts to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions and the ways the industry can adapt.
Climate-change related conditions including droughts, which decrease water availability and force gravel quarries to curtail production; warm temperatures which melt ice roads; and heavy rains, which can shut down access roads, all have an impact on mining operations.
Prno says while companies have started reducing emissions, ``most companies are not yet pro-actively planning for climate change.''
"The Canadian mining sector can do its part by implementing measures to adapt to climate change and reducing its carbon footprint,'' said Dale Marshall, climate policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation.
"Every sector needs to be part of the solution by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the root cause of climate change. But preparing for the ongoing reality of climate change is in the best interests both of mining companies and communities whose well-being is tied to the success of the industry."
Mining industry prospects depend on climate change action
19 August 2009
TORONTO - Canada's mining industry is already feeling the impacts of climate events with the distinctive fingerprint of climate change, but solutions exist to help it adapt, according to a study released today by the David Suzuki Foundation."Because of its dependency on the natural environment, the Canadian mining sector is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change," says report co-author and mining researcher Jason Prno.
The study is the first of its kind in Canada. It looks at current mining-industry trends in relation to climate change impacts on mining operations, efforts to curb the industry's own greenhouse gas emissions and opportunities to adapt. It was conducted by a team of leading mining researchers and academics in the field. In addition to two major surveys, the study involved six in-depth case studies of mining operations in the Northwest Territories, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Labrador and the Yukon.
"We spoke with mining stakeholders from across Canada and found a significant number believe that climate change is already having a negative impact on their operations," says Mr. Prno.
Over the past 20 years, mines across Canada have experienced impacts from climate events including: droughts decreasing water availability and forcing gravel quarries to curtail production; warm temperatures leading to ice road closures, and heavy rains shutting down access roads.
"The mining sector is increasingly taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but most companies are not yet pro-actively planning for climate change," Mr. Prno says.
"The risks of climate change are becoming a central fact of business life," says Dale Marshall, climate policy analyst with the David Suzuki Foundation. "Every sector needs to be part of the solution by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the root cause of climate change. But preparing for the ongoing reality of climate change is in the best interests both of mining companies and communities whose well-being is tied to the success of the industry."
This is a landmark year to address climate change as world leaders meet in December at the UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen to negotiate a global solution.
"The Canadian mining sector can do its part by implementing measures to adapt to climate change and reducing its carbon footprint. It should also join with Canadians across the country to call on the Canadian government to sign onto a strong deal in Copenhagen for the sake of our environment and economy,"
Mr. Marshall says.
For further information:
Climate Change and Canadian Mining: Opportunities for Adaptation is available in summary at www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/Climate_Change_and_Canadian_Mining.asp