Mining continues to rebound from the last cycle’s downturn, ramping up investment in exploration and project development as demand drivers remain robust. But the industry is changing: concerns over climate change and access to reliable water and power remain critical issues with significant risk to “license to operate.” These challenges are forcing mining operations to be more proactive and innovative with increased focus on sustainability. Miners are seeking to lower costs and build resilience by integrating cleaner energy options such as natural gas and renewables into their power portfolios.
Advances in desalination, treatment, recycling and reuse are strengthening the conversation around sustainable water management. Meanwhile, new advances in digital technologies and cyber security offer promise in safeguarding health and safety, improving productivity and resilience, decreasing operating and maintenance costs, reducing emissions and improving the bottom line.
To make this vision a reality for our clients, Black & Veatch brings together a worldwide network of expertise in these key areas:
Water Management: Water management is a fundamental consideration for every mining operation. Miners are being proactive throughout the mining life cycle and seeking opportunities to optimize the use of this precious resource, through both traditional and alternative methods.
Power Generation and Delivery: Mining companies require a safe, secure, cost-effective and reliable source of power to support their production requirements. While most mining operations rely on fossil fuels for power, clean energy is becoming increasingly cost-competitive and offers new promise in terms of reliability and resilience.
Sustainability: Mining companies recognize the critical importance of sustainability in ensuring the mine’s license to operate. Stakeholders, including communities, regulators and shareholders need to work together to unlock and maximize the potential of the mined resource for all. We work with clients to convert their sustainability goals toward unlocking this potential.
Integrated infrastructure is becoming more common, as it takes a holistic approach that considers a long-term view. Components of integrated infrastructure can include water supply, conventional power, renewable energy, communications networks, water disposal or reuse, roads, railways and ports.
Mining companies must address energy risks to their businesses, including reliability of supply and potential scarcity. In some developing countries, the problem of load shedding by electrical utilities has a direct impact on production. This can force a mine to look for ways to generate its own power.
Companies can achieve the nexus of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and superior financial performance by adopting smart technology and innovative resource management practices. These efforts will provide significant long-term return on investment while strengthening their social license to operate.
Rather than being reactive and responding to an emergency, mining companies can be proactive and forward-thinking with regard to their water acquisition and consumption. Drought often impacts the entire mining industry. It can prompt governments to change laws relating to water rights in order to protect aquifers. In response, mining companies can turn to alternative means of supplies, such as seawater or brackish desalination, water recycling or water reuse.