Mining Gets a Bad Rep: How the Industry Can Better Promote Sustainability and Responsible Practices

In Dust Control, Environment, Mine & Quarry by Jim Silva

The mining industry is finally getting the acknowledgement it deserves, thanks to community outreach and eco-friendly initiatives. Read on to find out how your mining operation can further improve its PR efforts.

For far too many, the word “mining” conjures up images of scarred landscapes and environmental degradation. While this reputation is certainly harmful to the mining industry and can even impede its ability to make a profit, the responsibility of environmental stewardship does not fall on them alone. We all profit from mining in some way or another — the minerals extracted from mines sustain us in the form of technologies, transportation, and countless other items we rely upon on a daily basis. If it hasn’t been farmed, it has probably been extracted from the ground.

Focus on Community

Given that mining activities have formed the backbone of our industrialized society for centuries, we as a society should shift our focus from condemnation to improvement. How can we make mining better and ensure that future generations will also be able to benefit from its spoils?

A recent white paper study issued by the Kellogg Innovation Network at Northwestern University highlighted areas for improvement within the mining industry, and made recommendations for how companies can make their activities more socially and environmentally sustainable. The report placed particular emphasis on building stronger relationships between management, workers, and local communities.

As Cred Jewellery founder Greg Valerio, a proponent of better industry-community relations, notes, “The model is flawed, as it puts profits before people and the politics of securing the bottom line before community participation.” Traceability, he maintains, is essential to changing all this. Valerio says best practices spurred by traceability ensure that “the majority of the money earned by communities stays in the country and generates genuine wealth and livelihood opportunities for the people of the country.”

By combining friendlier relations with tangible economic growth, mining companies can improve their public image within the communities on which they depend. One effective way of improving PR? Social media. An effective social media strategy can do much to promote transparency, build community relations, and humanize the company and dispel negative stereotypes.

Commit to Green Values

The white paper also identified opportunities for the mining sector to reduce its environmental impact. Though the activities associated with mining take place within relatively small areas of land, the pollution resulting from extraction can adversely affect whole ecosystems. As mining enters the 21st century, the industry must turn to technological developments to promote more sustainable environmental policies and convince generations to come that mining is a sound and valuable industry.

The Dust Control solutions created by Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. represent one of the easiest ways to make mining a more palatable process for everyone. From the access and haul road dust suppression products that reduce dust, improve haul road surfaces, reduce watering and grading, and keep employees healthy and productive, to the Dust-Buster® systems for material handling, which prevent harmful matter from entering air and water. These products are proven to help mining companies reduce costs and improve their relationships with surrounding communities. If you have a dust problem, Midwest has a solution: our range of options—spray systems, sealants, you name it—is expansive enough that any air quality issue can be dealt with effectively and efficiently.

It’s simple: commitment to environmental sustainability gives your company a human face, leading to better community relations. That’s just good business.

(Photo Credit: John Fowler/Flickr)

Jim is Midwest’s Business Unit Manager for Global Mining. He is experienced in operations management, asset management, and business improvement.