New GRI Standard to Address Mining Sector Sustainability Impacts

Mining worker supervises mineral collection

(Credit: GRI)

by | Feb 6, 2024

A GRI Standard for the global mining sector has been released to provide mining companies with a uniform set of metrics to report environmental impacts, aiming to address stakeholder transparency concerns.

The new standard, GRI 14: Mining Sector 2024, addresses 25 topics of interest for mining companies, such as site-level transparency, emissions, biodiversity impacts, and community engagement. The standard also includes three new GRI topics, including tailing management, artisanal and small-scale mining, and operating in conflict zones.

GRI said that the standards are being published amidst stakeholder criticism of the mining sector’s environmental footprint. While mining is a necessary aspect of many emerging clean energy technologies and is currently relied upon for electric vehicle development, mining is known to use large amounts of water, cause considerable emissions, and pollute surrounding communities.

“From a sustainability standpoint, the position of mining is complex, in that it is both part of the solution and the problem,” said Carol Adams, chair of the global sustainability standards board for GRI. “The low-carbon transition cannot be realized without key minerals that the sector provides — yet mining operations can have deep and damaging impacts on both nature and people. We need detailed, consistent, and globally comparable reporting on the most significant impacts of mining companies, which this new GRI Standard will deliver.”

Standards Tackle Impact as Mining Explores Decarbonization

At present, mining largely relies on heavy industrial machinery, most of which uses diesel to operate. As more electric and renewable diesel equipment options come to market, the mining industry may gain access to a major solution for reducing its emissions impact.

Some companies have already committed to decarbonizing their mining fleet.

Metals and mining company, Rio Tinto, recently announced plans to switch from fossil fuels to renewable diesel for its 90 haul trucks at its copper site in Utah. GM and Komatsu are also currently jointly designing a hydrogen-powered electric mining truck. Desalination technologies have also emerged as an option for mining companies to reduce their freshwater consumption and avoid contamination of local water supplies.

While such technologies are not yet widely available, mining companies may improve supply chain transparency and support operations in terms of land use, safety, community impact, and more.

Stay Informed

Get E+E Leader Articles delivered via Newsletter right to your inbox!

Share This