Tackling critical sustainability challenges in the global mining industry
NextMine™ is the transformational strategic initiative through which the Sustainable Minerals Institute will assist the minerals industry to address major challenges that have the potential to limit the responsible development of the sector.
Across the minerals industry globally a number of major challenges are emerging for which there are no off-the-shelf solutions and the way forward is not always clear. Examples include:
- Deeper and lower-grade ore bodies
- Dealing with growing volumes of waste
- Difficulties in obtaining social and community acceptance of mining activities
- Geopolitical complexities in emerging mining regions
- Limitations on the availability and affordability of water and energy for mining and mineral processing
- Environmental impacts of mining activities and mine legacy planning.
Through the NextMine™ initiative, SMI is bringing its globally unique discipline breadth to these challenges. By working together across disciplines, SMI’s collective knowledge and expertise will assist in the identification of new approaches to deliver step-wise, real-world improvements.
NextMine’s™ focus is not just on new technologies, but also on the more effective utilisation of existing technology through better linkages between business functions, across the different stages of the mining process, and between mines and other stakeholders in the spatial environment.
SMI is using internal funding to seed projects under the NextMine™ umbrella with the aim of demonstrating that a connected approach is an effective way of addressing major challenges and opportunities faced by the industry. To date, two projects have been announced:
- Rare Earth Minerals: Systems Solutions to Supply Constraints
- Designer Tailings: Improving the Management of Tailings Through Collaborative Research
- In-Situ Recovery: Birth of a New Mining Technology
The NextMine™ initiative is being led by Professor David Brereton, SMI’s Director of People Centres. David’s responsibilities include:
- Overseeing the selection and monitoring of projects funded under NextMine™
- Engaging with companies and other funding bodies to generate additional, long term support
- Working with SMI’s Leadership Group and research leaders, and industry partners to identify opportunities for new projects
- Communicating about NextMine™ within SMI and to industry partners.
The long-term aim is to make NextMine™ self-sustaining. SMI will do this by identifying significant project and partnership opportunities for investment by SMI’s corporate partners. The majority of outcomes from NextMine™ activities will be made widely available through publication and dissemination, for example through industry-focused training and education programs.