South Africa launches circular economy initiative for mining industry

03 May 2024 16:58

Pretoria - The South African Circular Minerals and Metals Initiative aims to make the extractive mining industry more circular. The initiative will bring together researchers, industry leaders, and others who want to reuse and recycle more materials and products in mines and metalmaking businesses.

South Africa has launched a new initiative to create and expand circular economies in minerals and metals.

The South African government’s Department of Science and Innovation unveiled the SACMMI, to increase reusing and recycling resources within the country’s large local mining sector at an April 11 press conference at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research International Convention Centre in Pretoria, according to a LinkedIn post.

The Mandela Mining Precinct, a public-private between the government, mining companies, and mining equipment manufacturers that aims to bring sustainability to the industry, will host the SACMMI.

“As an extraction-based industry, the mining sector has often been excluded from circular economy discussions,” the Department of Science and Innovation said in an April 10 press release.

Department officials added that miners traditionally follow a ‘make, waste, and dispose’ business model that loses value and emits greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Circular economic principles, however, could reduce those problems significantly. “Ongoing research shows that the circular economy provides considerable opportunities for mining, including in respect of risk management and diversifying sources of minerals and metals,” they said.

The idea for the SACMMI first arose in the South African government’s 2019 White Paper on STI, which aims to create a more prosperous and inclusive country while also fostering innovation and economic development, and cutting carbon.

“The circular economy is not a nice to have. It's also not an environmental agenda,” said Linda Godfrey, a professor at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in an April 11 interview with Engineering News. “It's a social and economic and an environmental imperative for every country as we face growing resource scarcity.” ce/jd

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