What comes to mind when you think about mining ? Pollution? Exploitation? Cave-ins? Yes, those issues do exist but that’s not the whole story. I think people often overlook the importance and value of the industry. Mining is a key activity in Canada, contributing $36 billion to the GDP in 2010 ($8 billion in mineral extraction and $28 billion in mineral processing and manufacturing) (Statistics Canada). In my recent interview with Dr. John Meech a professor in mining engineering at the University of British Columbia, he explained his view of the industry which I think makes a very valid point:
“Mining isn’t going to go away. Everything we do requires materials and metals out of the ground. So how can we do it much more effectively, [while] taking care of local communities, protecting the environment, helping to solve poverty issues around the world?”
And this is where I think there are a lot of misconceptions about mining and mining research, the idea that mining practices don’t ever improve or the industry isn’t willing to improve them.
After speaking to different professors in the field, I found that the most common misconceptions about Canadian mining engineering research are:
#1 Research is conducted in isolation from the industry and outside world.
#2 Research is not economical.
#3 Research has limited impact on the mining industry because the industry is already well established.
#4 Research is mostly communicated though scientific journals.
I addressed these misconceptions in a piece I wrote for EPCM World. Hopefully you’ll find this article adds to the conversation on sustainable mining.
Feature image source: Raimond Spekking / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)