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Mining projects engineering and consulting

AFRY's view on future mining practices

The mining industry is critical to the transition to a low-carbon future. Minerals and metals are essential building blocks in a wide variety of clean energy technologies, from wind turbines, solar panels and nuclear power, to electric vehicles and battery storage. To increase sustainability and decrease carbon intensity, the mining and metals sector is under pressure to rethink how it extracts, refines, and recycles.

AFRY is committed to following sustainable mining and metals principles

For AFRY, sustainable and responsible mining practices means adopting a comprehensive approach to ensuring the long-term sustainability of mining operations, as well as associated downstream beneficiation processes. AFRY is committed to following mining and metallurgical industry principles targeting to minimise negative environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with mining and minerals processing activities, that also promotes resource efficiency by minimising waste, and embracing recycling and circular solutions.

We have a sustainable mindset. Through our services we help clients in shaping and developing their ideas into technically, environmentally, and financially viable solutions.

Based on our wide range of knowledge, we can help clients to improve the sustainability of their operations at every step and in any scale of a project, from exploration to mining and minerals processing to further beneficiation, smelting and end-product refining and manufacture to end-of-life recycling.

Assessing environmental and social risks

At AFRY, we are experts in evaluating how your project affects and is affected by environmental and social factors. Stakeholder engagement is especially important in the mining and metallurgical industries because of the immediate contact to and impact on local communities through the usage of resources such as water, energy, and land.

An Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is a key step in every project for evaluating, predicting and addressing potential environmental and social impacts as well as regulatory constraints.

AFRY helps implement permitting strategies, development schedules, as well as mitigation and management plans. That way, we ensure that our clients comply with applicable environmental, social and ethical standards.

Improving material efficiency and going circular

A transition to more circular material flows needs to take place. Reaching higher material efficiency and developing new end-uses for by-products, moving towards zero-waste, improving recyclability of raw materials and by-products are keys to this objective. With the traditional boundaries of industries blurring, circular economy also fuels new business models and partnerships for the industry. Recycling enables the creation of new goods with a far smaller carbon footprint; therefore, it is vital to change present practices.

Circular economy in mining and metals

How can mining and metals industry improve its sustainability?

Better strategic planning Arrow pointing right

The complexity of a mining operation requires strategic planning from the early initial phases and a holistic view of end-to-end operations. Also the mining industry should rethink partnerships over traditional industry boundaries, and seek new ways of cooperating to find ways to improve sustainable efficiency.

Employing digitalisation Arrow pointing right

The use of digital twins of the operations enable fast access to real-time data, more accurate planning of maintenance, and a possibility to test processes with maximal safety The mining companies make, at an accelerating rate, investments in advanced solutions e.g. autonomous hauling systems or Ventilation-On-Demand in order to optimise mining operation expenditure and safety as well as to further improve environmental and production management.

Move away from fossils in operational phase Arrow pointing right

The Mining and metals sector can reduce mining and metals beneficiation related emissions, for example, through operational efficiency, by investment in fossil-free renewable energy, and in fully-electric or hybrid-electric vehicles. Mines can in fact to high degree decarbonise their operations, excluding fugitive methane emissions from coal mines.

Transition to circular economy Arrow pointing right

Improving material efficiency and developing new end-uses for by-products, work towards zero-waste, improving recyclability of raw materials and by-products are keys to this objective. With the traditional boundaries of industries blurring, circular economy also fuels new business models and partnerships.

Decarbonisation of production processes Arrow pointing right

There are options to reduce the industry sector related emissions, by for example, replacing carbon based reductants in ironmaking with hydrogen. Green hydrogen is produced from water by electrolysis utilising GHG free energy i.e. nuclear, hydro, solar or wind power. With the technologies in use today, a tonne of steel produced means almost two tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Improved water management / tailings management Arrow pointing right

The common way around the world is wet stacking, where the tailings are pumped into the ponds in slurry form. In dry stacking, the water from slurry is removed by a filtering process to dry solid matter, which is stacked to elevated piles. The footprint of the dry stacking method is significantly lower to the wet stacking method, and has lower consequences as it does not include flowing water and slurry. Dry stacking also allows around 80-90 % of the water to be recycled back into the process.

Janne Tikka - Head of Mining & Metals
Janne Tikka
Head of Mining & Metals

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