Sustainable mining – oxymoron or a way of the future?
Mining is an activity that has persisted since the start of humans using tools. However, one might argue that digging a big hole in the ground and selling the finite resources that come out of that hole is not sustainable, especially when the digging involves the use of other finite resources (i.e. fuels) and produces a lot of greenhouse gases.
The counter argument could go along the lines that minerals are not being lost or destroyed through mining and mineral processing – the elements are being shifted around, and converted into new forms. Metals can even be extracted from waste, seawater or even sewage, and recycled. But a more simple argument is possible: a mine can be sustainable if it is economically, socially and environmentally beneficial in the short and long term. To be sustainable, the positive benefits of mining should outweigh any negative impacts. […]
Social positives are often associated with mines in regional areas, such as providing better amenities in a nearby town, or providing employment (an economic and social positive). Social negatives can also occur, such as dust, noise, traffic and visual amenity. These are commonly debated and, whilst sometimes controversial, can be managed with sufficient corporate commitment, stakeholder engagement, and enough time to work through the issues. Time is the key parameter - it may take several years for a respectful process of community input, but as long as it is possible for social negatives to be outweighed by social positives, then the project will be socially sustainable.
It is most likely that a mine development will have some environmental negatives, such as direct impacts on flora and fauna through clearing of vegetation and habitat within the mine footprint. Some mines will have impacts which extend beyond the mine site, such as disruption to groundwater, production of silt and disposal of waste. Certainly these impacts will need to be managed throughout the mine life, along with robust rehabilitation and closure planning. […]
The real turning point will come when mining companies go beyond environmental compliance to create "heritage projects" that can enhance the environmental or social benefits in a substantial way – by more than the environmental offsets needed just to make up for the negatives created by the mine. In order to foster these innovative mining heritage projects we need to promote "sustainability assessments" - not just "environmental assessments". This will lead to a more mature appreciation of the whole system whereby the economic and social factors, as well as environmental factors, are considered in a holistic manner.
(adapted from https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/western-australia-division/sustainable-mining-oxymoron-or-way-future. Retrieved on August 10, 2015)
As regards the content of Text 3, analyse the assertions below:
I - It is well-known that the resources extracted from mines are endless.
II - The social negative impacts of mining may be minimized as time goes by.
III - Sustainable assessment has a wider field of action than environmental assessment.
IV - There is agreement that negative impacts of mining are restricted to the site.
The correct sentences are only: