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World Environment Day: Six Ways ICMM Members are Pioneering Environmental Good Practice

5 June 2022

This year’s World Environment Day theme is 'Only One Earth'. As we journey through the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, this day is an important reminder of how critical healthy ecosystems are for nature to thrive, in combatting climate change, and for the people who rely on them for their livelihoods.

By Hayley Zipp, Director – Environment, ICMM.

Climate change, nature loss and water scarcity are interlinked challenges that are affecting people across the world. As stewards of the minerals and metals critical for decarbonisation and sustainable development, ICMM members have a responsibility to lead from the front and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and a low carbon future. This requires mining with principles – meaning that everything we do aims to minimise negative impacts and create positive benefits, both for people and planet. In this blog, discover just some of the ways ICMM members are using innovative approaches and working in partnership to protect and restore nature in and around mining sites.

Gold Fields: Restoring tailings facilities to healthy, productive land

Through a combination of earthwork initiatives, agroforestry techniques (the growing of both agricultural and horticultural crops on the same land), wetland and water management systems, soil conservation, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and alternative livelihood initiatives, the Abosso Gold Fields Damang Mine in Ghana has undergone significant ecosystem restoration. The site now has self-sustaining wetlands with local fish, and the land is used to grow plants such as sugarcane, bamboo, and raffia palm, for the benefit of local communities. The development of an agroforestry system has resulted in improved soil nutrients, yielding an abundant supply of healthy food (after laboratory confirmation) and cash crops - such as palm oil, vegetables, cocoa, coconut, citrus, leguminous trees, maize, cocoyam, and plantain. Find out more here.

Orano: Applying a mitigation hierarchy to achieve no net loss of biodiversity

Orano is preserving the local ecosystem through integrated approaches to land-use planning and conservation. On its non-relocatable Fanay-Augères project, Orano planned a series of mitigation and restoration measures to avoid and restore any impact on the local ecology. Techniques included avoiding work during the breeding periods of local birds, using horses instead of heavy equipment to minimise land impacts, and creating new habitats for local amphibious wildlife. Find out more here.

Vale: Using DNA sequencing to monitor plant biodiversity in areas in and around mining sites

Vale has created a genetic reference library for all of the flora of the ironstone outcrops of the Serra dos Carajás, a first for the Amazon basin. This reference library enabled the company to determine species difficult to identify, and provide an objective, deep, and rapid assessment of the areas under the influence of mining activities, allowing better support for biodiversity initiatives at the site. Find out more here.

Glencore: Using rehabilitated mining land to grow crops and benefit communities

In the Mpumalanga region of South Africa, large portions of arable land are located near sources of mine-impacted water. The Mpumalanga Winter Wheat Pilot is a collaborative initiative implemented by ICMM, Glencore, Impact Catalyst and Business for Development, investigating whether rehabilitated mined land and mine-impacted water offer sustainable livelihood opportunities for local communities. After the first harvest in November 2021, the pilot has had promising results with crops using mine impacted water offering higher yields than those planted on virgin soil. Find out more here.

AngloGold Ashanti: Creating a park and biodiversity centre at its Quebradona copper-gold project, Colombia

AngloGold Ashanti has a ground-breaking plan to create – and integrate – a park and biodiversity centre into its Quebradona copper-gold project. This park has been designed to preserve the local environment in the area and to restore elements of the ecosystem to their natural state after being impacted by farming and other land uses. The initiative is intended to gradually facilitate the regeneration of more than 2,500 hectares of indigenous tropical dry forest and high mountain forest. As the park develops and is integrated into the tropical dry forest of Jericó, the intention is to reconnect the biological corridor that once existed between a number of rivers and streams, allowing for the conservation and resurgence of species of plants and animals in the area. Find out more here.

Vale: Restoring degraded areas of the Carajás National Forest in Brazil

Vale is restoring degraded areas of the Carajás National Forest and its surrounding areas in Brazil to re-establish connections between fragmented areas of forest and to protect the home of endangered species. It is planting more than 500,000 seedlings to expand the native vegetation, creating new micro-habitats for wildlife and increasing the diversity of species. In addition to these actions, in 2019 Vale also launched the Forest Goal, a voluntary commitment to protect 400,000 hectares and restore 100,000 hectares of forests outside of their operational sites by 2030. Find out more here.

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ICMM members are pushing the boundaries of good practice to enhance the industry’s contribution to sustainable development. To find out more about how our members are Mining with Principles, visit our case studies section here