Sustainability is back on top of the agenda in Mining & Metals. It is the “right thing to do”, but it is also driven by the need to respond to reputational crises, environmental disasters, investor pressure and the evolving social licence to operate,
The broadest and clearest definition says that sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social—also known informally as profits, planet, and people (see Investopia definition of sustainability here).
In very recent times, just a few examples we have seen from major companies, academics and major industry groups include:
- a landmark speech by BHP’s CEO, Andrew Mackenzie where out BHP’s response to the challenge of global warming is laid out (for the first time addressing Scope 3 Emissions)
- the re-definition of the purpose of an organisation to state shareholders no longer have primacy and are put on an equal footing with communities, workers, customers, and suppliers
- the Responsible Steel initiative is building a standard whose mission is to give businesses and consumers globally the confidence that all steel has been sourced and produced responsibly at all levels of the supply chain, from raw materials suppliers to end users
- Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) announcing initiatives to become a hydrogen producer which can be used in hydrogen fuel cell trucks and to replace coking coal with hydrogen in steel production
- renewed academic work on the Circular Economy in Mining , first discussed on a Schneider Electric Blog in 2014
One of the key elements in sustainability today is the intersection of new digital capability with sustainability strategy. If the digital transformation and the sustainability transformation are aligned, it will enable movement in both the right direction and at an accelerated speed.
Let’s take energy and emissions for example. Some of the basic sustainability strategies are to improve energy efficiency, to use renewable energy sources and to manage the supply/demand dynamic via energy storage and load shedding. How does digital add more value? Two examples are process and energy analytics to determine the optimal energy operating point for process plants and microgrid optimization to forecast, schedule and execute when to store, produce, consume or sell energy from distributed energy resources.
We believe that there is a lot more to discover about digital and sustainability transformation and we are kicking off a focussed special interest group with a free breakfast and talk by the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp. Leanne is the Founder & CEO of Everledger, a leading emerging technology enterprise that tracks the provenance of high-value assets on a global digital ledger in an authenticated immutable manner.
The event will be an opportunity to hear Leanne talk about the applications of Blockchain technology in sustainability and to informally discuss the intersection of digital and sustainability amongst peers. If this is a topic that interests you and you will be in Brisbane, Australia on October 14th 2019, please register and come along.