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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Kyle Gray

Utilising the Mining Industry to promote Sustainable Development
The world’s population is growing; this increasing population is putting pressure on all of the earth’s finite resources, including the metals and minerals. Governments globally are under huge pressures to promote sustainability and sustainable development. The mining industry is looking to continually grow and governments are looking for opportunities to leverage this growth for development. Mining companies and projects are increasingly coming under public scrutiny for their impacts on the local environment, economy, and society; they are looking to find ways of contributing to sustainable development.

The aim of this research was to show that mining executives in West Africa are engaging with sustainable development and that key parts of improving their sustainability practices involved overcoming their poor communication and a lack of transparency practices. This study offered insights into the ways mining projects could be leveraged towards improved sustainable development, using integrated planning approaches such as integrated infrastructure planning and sustainable core business approaches.

A semi-structured key informant interview process was used to gain additional insight into the opinions and perspectives of mining professionals and extractives sustainability consultants, the interviewees were tested on their understanding and knowledge of sustainable development and integrated planning. A critical analysis of the literature was used to determine what the theoretical best practice to increase use of integrated planning was already in use.

The findings show that on average there was a good understanding of sustainable development. All the mining executives agreed that there should be increased sustainable development initiatives within the industry and that they would like to implement new strategies. Several themes emerged identifying the different barriers that the mining executives were facing when promoting sustainable development through their operations. These included financial reluctance, risk aversion, poor communication, and lack of data transparency.