Smart mining, sustainability and Mining 4.0 – these are all concepts that everyone in the industry has been talking about in recent years in connection with raw materials production. What is meant and aimed at here is a mining industry that no longer poses a risk for the life and health of its workforce, one that is environmentally friendly and takes account of the concerns and interests of the public at large, and especially local residents. At the same time, of course, it has to be commercially viable, which is a fairly challenging task if only in terms of the volatility of the commodity markets. In this context everyone involved – and that means not just the mine operators but the broader public too – needs to be aware of the fact that there is no such thing as absolute certainty, either in the mining industry or elsewhere, that the extraction of raw materials will always constitute interference with nature or that the interests of the public in general are so complex and diverse that not everyone will be satisfied with the results. And it is simply not the case that for us in the mining world the quest for sustainability is essentially something new – indeed the conference on “Sustainable development indicators in the mining industry (SDIMI)”, which in 2019 was held in Australia, has been taking place every year since 2003.
Nevertheless, it is of course important to continue to improve things – and there are plenty of opportunities for this, ranging from engineering and technology to organisational processes and communications, to name but a few – and to disseminate the knowledge and experience thereby acquired. This can be done by way of conferences and conventions but also through specialist journals such as Mining Report Glückauf.
In this present edition of the magazine we have taken a wide thematic view of the opportunities that present themselves for an (even more) sustainable mining industry. In the ISSA Mining section we will be reporting on last September’s International Mining Rescue Body (IMRB) Conference that was held for the first time in Colombia. Other papers focus on issues such as corporate governance in South Africa, rockburst prevention in Poland, the challenges facing the operators of new mines in eastern Germany and the new mechanised shaft boring system being tried out in Belarus. A further contribution deals with the reclamation of raw materials from mine tailings, which is another aspect of the more sustainable approach being employed in this sector.
Sustainability also means security of supply. The German Federation of International Mining and Mineral Resources (FAB) represents German interests in the international raw materials sector and is especially active in the field of overseas mining. Another paper featured in this issue takes a look at the African continent, where many countries are not only involved in mining but are at the same time undergoing economic and industrial development. A fair and efficient African mining industry could well open up new prospects for the peoples of the region.
With my best regards
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas-Peter Sitte
Chief Editor Mining Report Glückauf, Essen