Improving Sustainability in Australian Mining

July 3, 2023

Sustainability in Australian Mining Through Supply Chain Improvements

Australia is a global powerhouse when it comes to mining, leading the charge in the production of essential commodities like iron ore, gold, and lithium. The mining sector undoubtedly contributes significantly to Australia's economy. Still, it also poses substantial environmental challenges. As the call for sustainability grows louder, Australian mining companies are exploring strategies to mitigate their environmental footprint, and many are finding the answer lies in reimagining their supply chains.

The Power of the Supply Chain in Mining Sustainability

A mining company's supply chain can be viewed as a lifecycle that begins with the extraction of raw materials and ends with the distribution of the final product. By integrating sustainable practices into each phase of this lifecycle, mining companies can achieve a transformative reduction in their overall environmental impact.

In the quest for sustainability, targeting supply chain improvements offers multifaceted opportunities. These could include lowering carbon emissions, minimising waste generation, and enhancing resource efficiency through measures such as adopting renewable energy sources for mining operations, incorporating recyclable materials for packaging, or establishing waste recycling initiatives at refining stages.

BHP's Climate Change Strategy: A Case Study in Green Supply Chain Innovation

One company that exemplifies the transformative potential of green supply chain innovation is BHP, one of Australia's premier mining companies. BHP's approach to sustainability is defined by an ambitious climate change strategy that recognises the critical role of supply chain enhancements.

In 2020, BHP entered into an agreement with Oldendorff Carriers, a shipping company, to use the world’s first LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carriers. This landmark initiative is projected to slash CO2 emissions by as much as 30% per voyage, marking a significant step towards greener supply chains in mining.

Furthermore, BHP's commitment to responsible sourcing forms an integral part of its supply chain strategy. The company maintains stringent environmental, social, and governance standards for all materials and services sourced through its global supply chain. This principle is exemplified in its Local Buying Program, which favours local Australian suppliers, thereby supporting regional economies and further reducing the carbon emissions associated with long-distance transportation.

Rio Tinto's Mine of the Future™ Program: Tech-Driven Supply Chain Optimisation

Rio Tinto, another leading Australian mining company, has taken a technology-driven approach to supply chain sustainability through its innovative Mine of the Future™ program. The program applies cutting-edge technology to streamline supply chain processes, effectively reducing waste and environmental impact.

The use of autonomous trains and robotic drilling systems under this program significantly improves operational efficiency while also reducing the energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with these processes. This forward-thinking initiative underscores the transformative potential of technology in realising greener supply chains in mining.

Fortescue Metals Group's Green Fleet: Renewable Energy in Mining Operations

Fortescue Metals Group is another industry player making significant strides towards greener supply chains. In an unprecedented move, Fortescue has pledged to deploy a fully green mining fleet at its Eliwana mine by mid-2021. The fleet, powered by renewable energy sources and advanced battery technology, is anticipated to considerably reduce operational emissions, making a crucial contribution to supply chain sustainability.

The Promise of Sustainable Mining in Australia

The case studies of BHP, Rio Tinto, and Fortescue Metals Group illuminate the transformative potential of supply chain improvements in mining sustainability. They highlight the viability of diverse strategies, including greener transportation, advanced technology integration, and responsible sourcing practices. Each of these steps paves the way towards a more sustainable mining sector.

The increasing focus on supply chain sustainability offers numerous advantages for mining companies. Beyond the essential environmental benefits, these measures can provide a competitive edge, potential cost savings, and improved relationships with a broad range of stakeholders, from local communities to global partners.

Importantly, the steps taken by these industry giants send a potent message to the broader mining industry: sustainability is not only achievable but also advantageous. By pioneering these practices, these companies are shaping a blueprint for the future of the industry.

As we look to the future of mining in Australia, the importance of supply chain innovations cannot be overstated. Embracing these practices will allow the sector to continue to thrive, driving economic growth while also safeguarding our environment. This balance is critical as we navigate the path towards a sustainable future in Australia's mining sector, and the steps taken today will resonate for decades to come.

Contact us today, trace. your supply chain consulting partner.

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