Achieving Sustainable Mining in Africa
Africa’s mining potential is mammoth, being well endowed with mineral resources. The continent has over 30% of the world’s reserves producing over 60 different minerals. The enormous mining potential along with improvements in transparency in fiscal and regulatory policies have led to a rise in investments over the years. Simultaneously, there has also been a rise of awareness in areas of environmental and social impacts amongst mining companies. The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has helped to frame the agenda for sustainable mining and provides guidance on key issues for the sector. Several African mining countries have also reformed their laws requiring the extractive industry to actively engage with the local communities and abide by the environmental regulations as part of their operating strategy.
The goal of undertaking responsible mining in Africa led to the formation of The African Mining Vision advocating ‘’transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development. The vision is therefore consistent with the principles of sustainable development, wealth creation and the integration of the mining sector into Africa’s social and economic development process.’’ (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org) National mining policies and legislation have modified to embrace broader development goals such as considering the value position of the mineral value chain in the socio-economic development of a nation. Such reforms have had a positive effect reducing negative environmental impacts caused by mining activities. Mining activities are now seeking ways to utilise renewable energy more in comparison to fossil fuels. Corporate Social Responsibility is now being taken as an important part of the business model.
South Africa: Mining is the backbone to South Africa’s economy and key industry players are currently also focussing on sustainable prosperity apart from profit-making potential. Market leader such as Anglo American Platinum develop socio-economic programmes such as agricultural programmes and contribute significantly to South African education and health by building schools, clinics, roads etc. they also ensure that resources such as water and energy are optimised and saved. E.g. they reduced their water consumption decreased from 33.4 million metres cubed to 27.1 million metres cubed.
Zambia: Konkola Copper Mines, one of Africa’s largest copper producers has launched the ‘Going Green Initiative’ to restore the environment around KCM’s mining sites. KCM’s strategies go beyond mining where it is undertaking several projects in agribusiness and planning to produce biofuel. KCM also aims to grow a high-quality leather industry, thereby creating more jobs for the community. They plan to build a vibrant and diversifies economic hub in the Copperbelt.
Mali: Mali, being the third largest producer of Gold in Africa is encouraging artisanal mining where Mali’s chamber of mines and the government are negotiating with banks to give small miners easier access to financing for equipment, and newly formed cooperatives would be supervised and revenues distributed equitably.
Mozambique: Mozambique’s legal framework for environmental management is well developed, and recent legal reforms have strengthened key public interest safeguards. The government is addressing the issue of sustainable mining for rubies as the wise exploitation of rubies and mineral resources is one of the major challenges faced by Mozambicans. The government intensified security in the area and ensured illegal mining was stopped.