An expert on sustainable development issues has called on APEC Mining Ministers meeting in Chile to be more proactive in demonstrating benefits the mining industry offers for environmental protection and assisting the poor.
In his report on "Mining, Minerals and Human Welfare: The Tasks Ahead," Luke Danielson, of the Colorado-based Domani consulting firm, said the mining industry can create benefits for greater environmental and social wellbeing through the considered use and disposal of the products it produces.
"There are hundreds of millions of people without access to a minimum amount of electricity to serve sustenance, educational and information needs," Mr. Danielson said.
"We share an obligation and a commitment, expressed in Rio, Johannesburg and Antofagasta, to meet these needs. There is no way to meet these needs without copper for wires, lead for batteries, steel for turbine blades, or aluminum for wind machines.
"We must find ways to more efficiently get these products into the hands of those who need them so they can improve human welfare."
Mr. Danielson also said there are also environmental concerns at what happens to mineral concentrates used in consumer products if the used product is been disposed of improperly.
"We need a stronger concept of materials stewardship to know where the materials we produce are going, and what is being done with them," Mr. Danielson said.
"It is important to educate consumers about how to use and properly dispose of products before they become an issue for environment agencies."
Mr. Danielson said the solutions to these and other challenges have to be met through partnership.
"It must be recognized by all parties that achieving sustainable development on a global or local level is a shared task.
"No one succeeds without working in partnership and it is important for the mining and minerals industries to be able to contribute effectively to the environmental and social agenda the world has set for itself.
"Business is fundamentally about meeting human needs. The more industry meets human needs and the better it meets them, the more value it creates. The mining industry must be systematic and scientific in demonstrating benefits and efforts to prevent negative impacts."
The full report from Mr. Danielson is available on the APEC Website.
The First Meeting of APEC Mining Ministers is taking place over three days in the cities of Santiago, Antofagasta and Calama. Ministers concluded formal discussions in Antofagasta today and on Thursday will undertake technical visits to mining facilities around Calama including the Chuquicamata copper mine where the Ministers Declaration will be delivered.