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Three planning points for mine site project management

Editorial
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The biggest concern the mining industry faces today is reducing the harmful effects it has on the environment where projects are implemented.

Luckily, project management has come a long way, and there are many steps taken to ensure that minimal damage occurs.

Mining companies often hire consultant companies (i.e. Ausenco) to help them see through their plans from start to finish.

Proper planning is the key in keeping the environment and conservation issues to a minimum, and companies often visit the site beforehand to plan out the best strategies for that particular ecosystem.

Without proper management and risk assessment, there is greater chance of water and air pollution as well as deforestation.

Water Pollution
Without the right set of eyes overseeing a mining project, many threats face local water conditions.

Chemicals and minerals can run off into the water supply and cause bridges and other water structures to corrode, toxins to make their way into drinking water, aquatic life to be poisoned, and the natural flow of water to be disrupted.

The right project development can cut back on these risks by utilising different strategies to neutralise any acid that’s been formed (acid mine drainage is often a result of coal mining) as well as separate the toxic sediments in the water before they are released back into the natural body.

If not treated, acid can affect the environment for years after the mining project has completed.

Deforestation
Because obstacles need to be cleared out of the way before a mining project can begin, the risk of severe deforestation and other forms of environmental agitation pose a threat to both the ecosystem and any nearby communities. 

With current technology, mining consultants (or other forms of management) can predict what effects the project would have on wildlife, water conditions, vegetation, and any human population for years to come.

With enough time to explore the area and come up with a harm-reduction assessment, the risk of any severe threats can be greatly reduced so miners can complete their tasks with little long-term impact on the surrounding area.

Airborne Pollution
Another large problem the mining industry has contributed to in the past has been airborne pollution; toxic particles (oxides and sulphur) are released into the air with common mining practices (driving, drilling, etc.).

Again, with enough time, steps can be taken to reduce the amount of gas and dust that make their way into the air and in turn, dramatically cut back on the amount of toxins discharged into the environment.

Project management is crucial in cutting down on the environmental hazards the mining industry creates, and whether its mining companies taking the time and initiative to reduce the harmful effects themselves, or hiring consultants to do the planning for them, it’s vital for the wildlife, people, and ecosystem that any opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint are seized and acted upon

*Lily Ambrosi is a freelance writer who helps encourage industries to implement sustainable practices. 

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