CSIRO releases sustainability, economic growth report

Australian national science agency CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) has released a new report revealing the country’s “unique…opportunity” to create a new industry to support mine closures as well as economic growth via employment opportunities.

The report, entitled “Enabling Mine Closure and Transitions: Opportunities for Australian Industry”, includes insights the group said were taken from its own analysis plus mining industry databases. It found that, per projections, annual expenditures will exceed $4 billion on mine closure and rehabilitation activities as around 240 Australian mines approach closure by 2040.

This, in turn, creates a chance to not only back the closures and transitions in a sustainable way, but also to examine job opportunities for regional and Indigenous communities.

“These closures generate a growing demand for innovative solutions and technologies capable of leading mines towards closure, while addressing the associated diverse environmental, social, and economic challenges,” CSIRO said.  

The report was delivered for the Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME). 

Dominic Banfield, CSIRO Futures senior manager and lead author of the report, stressed there is a continued critical role for mining in Australia’s economy, especially with regard to jobs and developing essential minerals for the country’s energy transition and net-zero emissions goals by 2050.

“With thousands of active and inactive mines in Australia, the demand for mine closure solutions will only increase as we seek to ensure positive closures and to transition regions to successful post-mining futures,” Banfield said.  

The report, he added, has identified opportunities across four categories of mine closure solutions: 

  1. Engagement and partnership: Solutions that enable effective engagement, co-design, and mutually beneficial partnerships to improve social performance and reduce risks.  
  2. Waste reduction and recovery: Solutions enabling cost-effective reduction, reuse, and recycling of mine waste to minimise closure liabilities. 
  3. Mine rehabilitation: Solutions improving the performance and cost-effectiveness of mine rehabilitation activities. 
  4. Land use transitions: Solutions addressing challenges in establishing post-closure land uses to generate lasting economic, social, or environmental value.  

CRC TiME CEO Guy Boggs noted there is additional social, economic and environmental value stemming from a mine closure solutions industry. 

“The report’s comprehensive mapping highlights opportunities in engagement and partnership, waste reduction and recovery, mine rehabilitation, and land use transitions, showcasing the diverse spectrum of possibilities,” Boggs said.  

“Looking ahead, we believe Australia can harness its domestic mine challenge to emerge as a global leader in cutting-edge mine closure solutions.” 

The full report can be read here.

Source: CSIRO 

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