Mining #1: ISO 14001 Environmental Sustainability System in Gold Mining

Mining #1: ISO 14001 Environmental Sustainability System in Gold Mining

Gold mining emits a substantial amount of pollution into the environment, and with Global Warming becoming an increasing concern globally, there is more and more need for the implementation of Environmental Management Systems.

The environmental threats posed by the gold mining industry, and key environmental performance indicators assessed include noise levels, air quality, waste management, energy consumption and the number of reported environmental incidents.

The environmental management system provides companies with the tools to be more environmentally efficient and proactive through consistently reducing environmental impacts. What an ISO 14001 certification means is that the company has environmental management targets and objectives that they monitor, measure and evaluate their progress in environmental performance, both in regulated and unregulated areas. Moreover, it shows that the company continuously implements measures to decrease the environmental impact of operations and production, and identifying ways in which they could reduce their impact more. ISO 14001 provides controls for activities that lead to environmental damage, including energy consumption, the treatment and handling of waste and natural resource usage.

ISO 14001 also has economic benefits for the company. Firstly, by reducing waste, and energy consumption, and secondly, it demonstrates to the public that the company actively tries to be environmentally friendly in practices – which is beneficial to the company in terms of competitive advantage and credibility.

ENVIRX enables organisations to manage their risk based material environmental impacts in an integrated manner, enabling GRI G4 en standard management and reporting requirements according to the processes defined in the ISO 14001: 2015 standard. ENVIRX uses the same dynamic framework to measure, trend and report on their impact area, i.e. materials, water, energy, biodiversity, effluents and emissions amongst others.

A study was conducted on Gold Mining companies in Ghana and their key environmental performance indicators, which are; waste management practices, air quality, noise level and an energy consumption calculation.

Energy consumption calculation:

Total energy consumed per annum (terrajoules)

Total ounces of gold produced per annum

Measurement for waste management:

Field visits, investigations, interaction with staff and management, review of AER to determine waste disposal and management practices.

Air quality

Fine particulate matter analysis of fugitive dust emissions into ambient air to quantify nonrespirable dust levels. Determine the extent of airborne emissions.

Noise level

Determine the impact of mining operations on the surrounding communities, regulatory requirements and compliance points.

It was found that all the gold mining companies studied, their waste management had been improved and complied to the standard recommended by the external auditor. More specifically, the waste disposal and collection practices improved significantly, and waste segregation practices. EMS has also aided in the detoxification/treatment of effluent, decreasing the pollutant load in wastewaters. The employees of these workplaces had a more positive attitude toward waste management because of upskilling employees through environmental training which has resulted in increased environmental awareness and responsiveness. Due to this, prevention of pollution is implemented, particularly to ground and surface water, and the prevention of spreading of diseases. With regards to ambient air quality and communities, it was found that the air quality in the surrounding communities is far better than some remote communities. Furthermore, the airborne emissions were found to be mainly a result of vehicles on haulage, and light vehicle roads, or an extended dry period. Steady improvement was found by strict adherence to ISO 14001 and implementing dust suppression mechanisms, such as watering down roads.

The ambient air noise level was decreased as a result of certification and provisions made in the EMS. The companies planted trees as a buffer for noise. The energy consumption did not decrease, but due to the nature of the work and the machinery needed, this is understandable. Nevertheless, 25% of the energy is from electricity, which has not been proven to negatively impact the environment.

ENVIRX enables organisations to manage their risk based material environmental impacts in an integrated manner, enabling GRI G4 en standard management and reporting requirements according to the processes defined in the ISO 14001: 2015 standard. ENVIRX uses the same dynamic framework to measure, trend and report on their impact area, i.e. materials, water, energy, biodiversity, effluents and emissions amongst others.

These environmental impact areas are managed from a strategy and policy level; enabling leadership to tracking performance against environmental laws, regulation and permit compliance conditions as well as to the organisation’s own objectives. Specifically meeting improvement targets and efficiency initiatives. This structured environmental information flow process allows for efficient management and enables leadership to make informed decisions to minimise environmental risk, identify opportunities and improve environmental performance.

Contact XGRC Software – a STRATEGIX Group Company at 087 802 0179 or email us at info@xgrcsoftware.com for more information.

CONTACT XGRC SOFTWARE – CALL US ON 087 802 0179, EMAIL US AT info@xgrcsoftware.com

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