Seeking Innovation towards Sustainable Mining through Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Canadian mining innovation has emerged through a sequence of technological R&D initiatives such as the Canadian Mining Innovation Council, which are increasingly interdisciplinary collaborations. The traditional context of innovation has tended to be associated with advancing our mining, mineral processing and environmental technologies for operational design, planning and management, e.g. mine-mill integration, automation and robotics. The emergence of sustainable mining as a broader global paradigm, however, now prompts us to seek innovation that enables a broader integration of technology with the social, political and business dimensions of sustainability.
This paper firstly examines the innovation emerging within the mining industry with the potential to develop a new business strategy based more on sustainability. How can mine management aligned with sustainability integrate measures of environmental and social performance, to create business value and manage risks to ensure long-term corporate growth, profitability and enhanced reputational capital?
It then concludes by considering recent sustainable mining innovation that has emerged through the growth of some novel initiatives for global collaboration (e.g. Canadian, Australian and African). In Canada these are aimed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration between universities (principally UBC, SFU and Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal) and their strategic partners. They are seeking to work with the governments of mineral resource-endowed, developing world countries with the primary objective of poverty alleviation through mineral development. These initiatives aim to mobilize interdisciplinary collaboration that is bringing together teams of engineers and geoscientists with an array of business-political-social scientists and other disciplines, working principally with the developing country governments and communities.
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