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The circular economy is here, and miners must adapt

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

Just a few housekeeping items before this blog.

Notice of Change in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and name of the environmental reviewing agency. On August 28, 2019, the Impact Assessment Act, the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, and the Canadian Navigable Waters Act came into force. The Impact Assessment Act creates the new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and repeals the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 and CEAA. Over the coming weeks and months, the website will be updated to reflect these legislated changes and to release new procedures, policy and guidance documents. How this change will impact the current process underway for the Cochrane Hill Project through the CEAA/ EIS process will be made available in an upcoming blog. How does the new process compare to the former process will be compared and contrasted will be analysed also in the blog piece.

What is the goal of a circular economy? Retain as much value as possible from resources, products, parts and materials to enable long life, optimal reuse, refurbishment, re-manufacturing and recycling. Circular-economy advocates refer to industries as having ‘value cycles,’ not ‘value chains.’ As mining companies’ customers alter their practices to participate in the circular economy, miners will have to adapt.

When the pro-mining proponents argue that metals are required for our everyday objects such as cell phones, wedding rings…..the following article provides an emerging trend countering this argument: “The circular economy is here, and miners must adapt”. The article is from the Mining Journal based upon survey findings from The New Big Circle, a study by BCG and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The survey revealed companies in diverse industries have made the circular economy a strategic priority . The article is an interesting read. Implications for mining companies?

As recycling activities intensify, miners will face tougher competition from companies in the secondary-materials markets, especially in metals. For example, the global e-waste recycling market is expected to balloon sixfold by 2050, amplifying supply of recycled metals such as aluminium, copper and gold.Owing to buyers’ sharper focus on sustainability, miners will see demand increase for products that have been sustainably mined and that help customers reduce their emissions footprint. In a few cases, this might lead to a shift away from fossil resources and toward renewable materials, powerfully influencing how mining companies manage their mining and processing operations.

As part of their election platforms, several of the federal leaders are talking about climate change, increasing the renewal energy component of the country’s electrical grid and the reduction of the country’s reliance on oil and gas. Absent in the debates and interviews is the approach and trend noted in the above article. After reviewing the major party platforms the following was noted.

Liberals – Nothing addressing this particular topic.

Conservatives – Nothing addressing this particular topic.

NDP- Nothing addressing this particular topic.

Green Party: Moving Towards Zero Waste

  • Implement an extended producer responsibility program to hold manufacturers financially responsible for the waste associated with the production, distribution, packaging and end of life of their products.

  • Require an increasing percentage of recycled plastic feedstock in durable plastic products.

  • Require all products to be fully recyclable using readily available processes.

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