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There has been a growing push for the Australian mining industry to adopt ESG, Environmental, Social, and Governance, criteria to help shape the sector's growth over the next decade. Emerging elements such as digital transformation, resource conservation, and the continuing climate crisis, have prompted industry leaders and investors alike to name ESG mining as the future of Australian mining.
Industry analysts assert that navigating this shift from traditional mining practices towards highly digital and streamlined ESG mining will likely see developments in industry training as well as the introduction of new jobs within the sector alongside the introduction of new technologies. But what exactly can current mining industry professionals expect from this shift to ESG mining over these coming years?
Today, we'll be taking a closer look at ESG criteria and how they relate to developments in the Australian mining sector. We'll also be exploring ways that the mining industry continues to reduce its carbon footprint and develop sustainable mining practices designed to provide for future generations, both within Australia as well as across the globe.
The term ESG, Environmental, Social, and Governance, factors of any potential investment, are the three elements that comprise socially responsible investing. ESG factors are generally considered to be 'non-financial' factors, or information pertaining to a potential investment that doesn't directly reflect that investment's profitability.
As we move further through the 21st century, economic analysts across the globe are rethinking the classification of ESG as a 'non-financial' element of investing, as modern industries are moving away from viewing sustainability as being in total opposition to profitability. There are growing sentiments that sustainability and profitability will actually go hand-in-hand as global industries continue to adopt new technologies, and the mining industry is no exception here.
Currently, ESG mining is defined by the implementation of Industry 4.0 mining technologies, with digital infrastructure like smart mining software and remote sensing tools to help mining companies identify best possible approaches to resource extraction at their respective sites.
Remote sensing tools coupled with AI technologies allow ESG mining industries to boost the efficiency of their mining operations, allowing for greater yields and a reduction in depleted resources and potentially even overhead costs, as digital mining technologies may also open up the possibility of industry professionals working remotely.
The potential for ESG and Industry 4.0 mining technologies to offer mining companies total control over their processes, will also allow the Australian mining industry as a whole to decrease the size of their carbon footprint, allowing Australia to keep and maintain a climate pledge to the United Nations and fulfil our international duty to reduce our own monolithic greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of which arise from outdated manufacturing and resource and mineral extraction processes.
As many of Australia's larger mining corporations are already adopting digital mining technologies to reap all the economic and environmental benefits that this technology provides, there's a growing discourse surrounding the need for reform with regards to industry regulations.
For instance, new policies and procedures are likely to be put in place for the industry's growing population of remote workers. On a similar note, revisions to the industry's educational and training resources or courses can also be expected, as future generations of industry trainees will be required to familiarise themselves with Industry 4.0 mining technologies before entering professional roles.
All of these changes and the initiatives they require are likely to be pioneered by industry leaders in tandem with industry regulatory bodies like the Minerals Council of Australia as well as public sector bodies like Geoscience Australia.
Alongside these established industry regulatory bodies, it's likely that these industry changes will also be strongly supported by environmental and climate-oriented non-governmental organisations (or NGOs) like those that make up the Climate Action Network.
These NGOs are likely to play an integral role in ensuring that Industry 4.0 mining technologies do exactly what they're designed to do: bolster the sustainability rating of Australia's mining industry and reduce both the overall immediate and long-term environmental impacts of mineral extraction and other industry processes.
Although the rollout of revised industry regulations and the widespread use of digital mining technologies are both likely to be felt gradually by industry workers at every level, there is a sense of urgency surrounding the implementation of these changes.
Australia's national mining industry has allowed Australia to become one of the world's leading exporters of energy, but this mantle comes with the added responsibility of prioritising sustainability in the industry.
In truth, there has never been a better time to get serious about ESG mining, as investors flock to fund sustainable, forward-thinking mining companies who seek to ensure that their industry has the tools, resources, and attitude that it needs in order to stand the test of time and find its footing in an increasingly eco-conscious global economy. In a nutshell, there's nowhere else for the industry to go but green.