Sustainability on developing mining projects

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Sustainability nowadays is a key factor being considered for the success of any mining project. Actions taken by mining companies towards achieving recognition of their actions as correct and appropriate based on local laws and beliefs are a decisive factor for having any project moved forward. Sustainability efforts can be linked to initiatives taken by mining companies on health and safety, social responsibility and environmental impact.

For Peru and in regards to environmental impact issues, the Ministry of Energy and Mining (MINEM), has a key role on granting the ‘go ahead’ for mining projects being the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval a major component for the construction, operation and expansion of any project. Actually, the EIA represents the edge between moving forward or not with a project. While explorations, basic and even pre-feasibility studies can be executed to identify the potential of any project, getting successfully approved the respective EIA let a project move a step ahead to construction of both mining primary components such as concentrator plants, tailings deposits, pads and supportive components such as roads, transmission lines, energy systems, camps, etc.

The existence of such a tight requirement for getting properly approved EIAs creates demand on the peruvian local market for specialised engineering and consulting firms providing the relevant services. Local Peruvian firms such as Geoservice IngenierĂ­a are among the top consulting firms offering, among other engineering and construction services, the highly valued EIAs services.

International players such as Golder Associates, AMEC, Knight Piesold, SNC-Lavalin, SRK Consulting and Walsh have also presence on Latin American markets such as Peru and Chile.

The Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mining (MINEM) classifies the granting of permits related to environment based on the size of the mining company along with the activity the said company is developing whether it is exploration, exploitation or closure.

For companies classified as big and medium mining ones, it is given that while an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has to be approved before moving into exploitation, the respective Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has to approved before moving into exploration. In case of having mining companies classified under small mining activities, a semi-detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIASD) have to be granted before moving into exploitation.

In addition to the above classification, all mining companies will have to have a closure plan approved before moving into the actually closure stage. MINEM will issue a directorate resolution granting the necessary permits based on the mining project stage.

EIAs are the most valuable asset of any mining project because they actually contain the implied permission of the community which will be directly involved within the mining operations. While developing countries such as Peru look forward to welcoming foreign investment, communities are getting stronger an better educated about the issues that matter the most, the welfare of its people.

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