Four ways how supply chain can improve the sustainability of mining

05 July 2023 Consultancy.com.au 2 min. read

Australia's mining sector is a powerhouse, a crucial contributor to the nation’s economy. However, it is undeniable that mining activities have substantial environmental footprints. Experts from supply chain consulting firm Trace outline four ways how miners can improve their sustainability through supply chain initiatives.

Sustainability is beyond doubt an important area of attention for mining operations in Australia. Mining operations often lead to habitat destruction, water contamination, and greenhouse gas emissions. These issues can have a devastating impact on Australia’s unique biodiversity and contribute to global climate change.

For mining companies seeking to decarbonise their operations, supply chain is a key enabler. Sustainable supply chain management is about integrating environmental and social considerations into supply chain operations. This includes sourcing materials responsibly, optimising transportation and logistics to reduce emissions, and ensuring the end-of-life treatment of products is environmentally friendly.

Four ways how supply chain can improve the sustainability of mining

1. Responsible Sourcing
Mining companies should ensure that their raw materials are sourced responsibly. This could involve sourcing from suppliers who adhere to sustainable practices or using technologies to make extraction processes less destructive. A blockchain-based supply chain can also provide transparency and traceability, ensuring that every step of the supply chain meets sustainability standards.

2. Energy-Efficient Transportation
Logistics is a significant contributor to a company's carbon footprint. Mining companies can invest in energy-efficient vehicles and optimise their logistics routes to reduce fuel consumption. Additionally, they can explore alternative, cleaner sources of energy for transportation, such as electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.

3. Waste Management
Waste management is a significant challenge in the mining industry. Through innovative supply chain projects, mining companies can find ways to reuse or recycle waste materials. For example, some mining companies are exploring ways to turn tailings – the waste left over after mineral extraction – into construction materials.

4. Supplier Engagement
Finally, mining companies should engage with their suppliers and encourage them to adopt more sustainable practices. This can involve providing training, resources, or incentives to help suppliers improve their sustainability performance.

In summary

Improving sustainability in the mining sector is a complex task, but it’s an essential one. By focusing on their supply chains, Australian mining companies can significantly reduce their environmental impact and meet the rising demands for sustainability from consumers, investors, and regulatory bodies. It's not just good for the environment – it’s good for business too.

Implementing sustainable supply chain projects is a journey that requires ongoing commitment and investment. But the rewards – a healthier planet, a stronger reputation, and a more resilient business – are worth the effort.