May 2, 2012
The environment has become a growing concern for consumers, shareholders, and government. Efforts towards developing clean technologies have made environmentally sustainable practices more cost effective for industry. Taken together, these changes are moving industry toward more environmentally sustainable business practices. The option to damage the earth is becoming less desirable.
Although environmental sustainability seems to be widely discussed, definitions of environmental sustainability vary greatly. In the most general sense, the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) in the “Brundtland Report,” stated that sustainable practices should “meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Recent efforts are being made to increase industry reporting. These efforts are to improve industry accountability. Companies such as Goldcorp Inc. and BHP Billiton are producing documents disclosing their environmental, economic, and social practices, through frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative. Although such frameworks have been criticized based on their usefulness for creating change, the fact of the matter still remains that efforts are being made towards more sustainable business practices. It is clear that the environment is becoming a greater aspect of industry.
Many mining companies, including Australia based BHP Billiton, the largest mining company in the world, are seeing the benefits to integrating sustainability into their business practices. Mining companies are now publishing their intentions to improve their practices on their websites. Blog posts, tweets, and Facebook pages show these companies are making public efforts to discuss their impact on the environment.
The mining industry needs to go further then stating intentions, to articulating their environmental practices. What is environmental sustainability? What does it look like? What are the specific practices that will support in achieving sustainability? Government and shareholders are now demanding reports that articulate the specific sustainability efforts of mining expeditions. These reports show how each mining excursion intends on integrating environmental sustainable practices into their mining process, which includes how the land will be reclaimed back into nature.
A new market is developing in order to support mining companies in reporting. For example, we offer 3D Rendering Services targeting mining companies in order to create realistic images and animations on how sites will be reclaimed back after mining is complete. Renders show images before and after the mining project. The images portray decontamination efforts and restoration of the local eco systems. For example, a mining company wants to drill in grassland with accompanying river. Images are taken of the area prior to the project’s start. These images are then sent to RealSpace3D, along with a description of the expedition at the site. RealSpace3D works with the company to create realistic images showing the alterations to the land, and the quality of the reclamation effort to be made by the mining expedition. Visually, the images show what words cannot. Companies are able to illustrate the specific way the environment will look once the reclamation effort is complete. This level of reporting suggests the fusion between technology and global stewardship are coming to the mining industry.
Currently many mining companies are still using verbal descriptions to communicate their reclamation efforts. These descriptions can be vague and poor communicators to government and shareholders. Images depicting sites before and after would greatly enhance their articulation of sustainability and accountability.