Thursday, November 30, 2006

Can mining ever be sustainable?

If you're reading this it means that you are using a computer. According to the publication "Dirty Metals: Mining, Communities and the Environment": Your personal computer contains a medley of metals, including gold, silver, aluminum, lead, copper, iron, zinc, and tin. Many of these materials could be salvaged at the end of the computer’s life and recycled. But currently, most discarded computers are dumped in landfills or incinerated.

Which brings us to the Metal Industry's Declaration on Recycling for Sustainable Development. An interesting concept. Is it for real? (GW)

Metals Industry Publishes Declaration on Recycling for Sustainable Development

(CSRwire) November 30, 2006- The metals industry has today published a declaration on recycling principles aimed at encouraging product policy-makers, designers and manufacturers to adopt life cycle thinking when developing metals recycling policies.

Metals are chemical elements and therefore can be recycled infinitely with no inherent degradation of properties. Commonly today the content of recycled metals and alloys in products is used as a driver for increasing recycling rates and an indicator of environmental performance. However this approach is too simplistic and could encourage inefficiency in the production and use of recycled metals, according to a broad coalition of 18 metal industry associations including the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).

The industry coalition believes the objective should be to promote eco-efficiency in metals use, that is to minimize negative environmental impacts whilst maximizing the economic benefits to society.

The Declaration argues that specifying a minimum or target level of recycled material content in a product ignores the environmental costs and benefits associated with achieving this goal. Indeed attainment of the goal may lead to an increase in economic and environmental costs when for example metal available for recycling is diverted to the manufacture of a particular product away from one where the recycling loop is more economical or environmentally efficient.

The Declaration states that a life cycle approach which considers the material flows at the end of the product life, enabling accurate assessment of the environmental and economic implications of any intervention aimed at increasing recycling is preferable. This approach helps decision-makers identify inefficiencies and associated environmental impacts and optimize product recovery and material recyclability.

In welcoming the Declaration ICMM President Paul Mitchell said, “Encouraging policy makers and product designers to adopt life cycle thinking when planning for materials recycling in a product system will promote a reduction in the overall environmental impacts of metal-based products.”

The Declaration is a consequence of metal producing companies extending their interest beyond the plant gate to a consideration of the whole life cycle of their materials. This focus on materials stewardship is in the interests of environmental and economic efficiency, achieving regulatory compliance and enhancing reputation through responsible behaviour.

The Declaration by the metals industry on recycling principles is available at

The declaration on recycling principles has been jointly produced by: American Iron and Steel Institute, Cobalt Development Institute, Eurofer (European Confederation of Iron and Steel Industries), Eurometaux (representing the European non-ferrous metal industries), International Aluminium Institute, International Chromium Development Association, International Copper Association, International Council on Mining and Metals, International Iron and Steel Institute, International Manganese Institute, International Molybdenum Association, International Stainless Steel Forum, International Zinc Association, International Tungsten Industry Association, ITRI (formerly International Tin Research Institute), Lead Development Association International, North American Metals Council, Nickel Institute.

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) is a CEO-led organization representing the mining and metals industry internationally. An important part of its mandate is dedicated to sustainable development. ICMM comprises many of the world's leading mining and metals companies as well as regional, national and commodity associations, all of which are committed to improving their sustainable development performance and to the responsible production of the mineral and metal resources society needs. ICMM's vision is a viable mining, minerals and metals industry that is widely recognized as essential for modern living and a key contributor to sustainable development.

ICMM’s 15 corporate members are:

Alcoa, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, BHP Billiton, CVRD, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Lonmin, Mitsubishi Materials, Newmont, Nippon Mining & Metals, Rio Tinto, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Teck Cominco, Xstrata, Zinifex.

ICMM’s 24 association members are:

Camara Minera de Mexico, Chamber of Mines of South Africa, Cobalt Development Institute, Consejo Minero de Chile A.G., Eurometaux, Euromines, Federation of Indian Mineral Industries, Indonesian Mining Association, Instituto Brasileiro de Mineraçao, International Aluminium Institute, International Copper Association, International Wrought Copper Council, International Zinc Association, Japan Mining Industry Association, Lead Development Association International, Minerals Council of Australia, Mining Association of Canada, Mining Industry Associations of Southern Africa, Nickel Institute, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, Sociedad Nacional de Minería (Chile), Sociedad Nacional de Minería Petróleo y Energía (Peru), World Coal Institute, World Gold Council.


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