On August 5, 2010, the San José copper-gold mine in northern Chile caved in, trapping 33 miners underground. They remained there for 69 days – when all 33 were rescued, for the most part in good health.

While this incident thankfully had a positive ending, it’s just one example of what can happen in a world where environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) issues are overlooked. Other mining incidents have occurred since – as recently as 2019, the collapse of the Brumadinho tailings dam in Brazil killed 270 people. But the world is changing: awareness of ESG issues is growing, and the mining industry is increasingly taking action to operate more ethically and sustainably.

A central part of mining operations

Indeed, many mining companies are now making voluntary ESG reports and incorporating ESG commitments into their corporate values. These commitments don’t just relate to health and safety, although efforts in this area have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s also a growing drive to standardize labor practices, support local communities, and reduce employee turnover. When it comes to environmental issues, many companies are aiming to reduce CO2 and pollutant emissions, and improve waste handling and resource use to preserve biodiversity.

And of course, mining companies must also meet a growing set of governmental requirements on corporate governance, ethics, compliance, and diversity, as well as addressing the concerns of lobbying groups. As the influence of specialist ESG rating agencies grows, these practices are becoming not just ways for mining companies to differentiate themselves from their peers, but critical to managing reputational risk and remaining successful.

Malvern Panalytical: Supporting mining’s ESG commitments

Materials characterization solutions can support mining companies in meeting their ESG commitments by enabling waste and tailings monitoring, improved combustion efficiency, and a greater degree of automation. And, at Malvern Panalytical, we offer several of these solutions.

Our CNA3 cross-belt analyzer’s insights can enable mining companies to realize efficient ore sorting early in the process to use minimum energy and produce less waste. Real-time analysis on a conveyor belt can also enable powerplants to increase combustion efficiency by around 0.4% and, in turn, reduce CO2 emissions. Secondly, our Epsilon X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, TerraSpec NIR spectrometer, and Aeris Minerals X-ray diffractometer help ensure that waste composition is within environmental limits and monitors the geotechnical stability of tailings dams to ensure that they are secure.

Last but not least, our automated process control solutions are enabling greater accuracy and reduced labor requirements in mining operations, reducing risk and improving safety. Together, these solutions can help contribute to a better mining future – where accidents like the San José and Brumadinho collapses are a thing of the past.

To find out more about our analysis solutions for mining, please visit our dedicated webpages or contact Uwe König.