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Mining has become increasingly difficult for societal and environmental reasons all over the world. There is increasing competition with other land uses, and water and energy are scarce in many important mining regions. People are not ready to radically reduce the use of mineral-based products, but increasingly oppose mining. The industry faces major challenges to improve its performance and image.
The Green Mining concept (GM) was developed as a major tool to make Finland the forerunner in sustainable mining. It promotes material, water and energy efficiency to reduce the environmental footprint of mineral-based product life cycles. GM allows the recovery of all useful minerals and minimises mining waste. GM aims to ensure the availability of mineral resources for future generations, which requires long-term investment in exploration supported by geoscientific mapping, mineral systems research and the development of exploration techniques. An important goal of GM is to minimise adverse environmental and social impacts in all stages of the operations, and to maximise local benefits. GM helps to organise the operations in such a way that they are safe and meaningful to employees, and harmless for local residents and the environment. After mine closure, GM helps to restore the mining areas to make them safe and preferably to allow other types of land use. The broad-based participation of local residents and other stakeholders is crucial throughout the mining life cycle, from early exploration to mine closure.
Societies, governments and investors will not tolerate unsustainable mining companies in the future. The mining industry has to solve increasing social, ecological and technical problems of the future by applying holistic concepts, such as the Green Mining concept, to earn the social license to operate.
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