The circular economy concept, as defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015) and quoted by the recent International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Guide to Responsible Sourcing, calls for shifting industrial systems from a linear take-make-waste model to a circular model (ICMM, 2015). In this model products are designed to optimise product and material recovery and reuse, and by-products of one system are used as inputs into other product systems. While the mining industry to date has made a limited contribution to the circular economy, the current market conditions, which are prompting calls for greater innovation, make the timing right for the industry to boost its contribution by utilising and generating value from mining waste, or making it available as a feedstock from which other industries can harness value.
The first part of this extended abstract discusses the way the circular economy concept can be adapted to metal mining activities, contributing to a more sustainable resource extraction at the mine site level. The second part of this extended abstract presents a circular economy based framework revolving around non-renewable resources conservation. The third and final part examines the application of the framework to the Mount Morgan mine in Central Queensland.
Lèbre, É and Corder, G, 2016. Utilising mineralised mining waste – contributions to the circular economy, in Proceedings Life-of-Mine 2016 Conference, pp 132–134 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).