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Issue 6:

Film showcases companies that are mining right

As the demand for mined minerals increases, everyone — from students to miners, governments to global corporations — must understand how to work together to meet those needs while protecting the world in which we live. Caterpillar and Science North recently produced a new film to raise awareness of all that the mining industry is doing to operate sustainably and to highlight the importance of mined materials in everyday life.

“Ground Rules: Mining Right for a Sustainable Future” features mines in countries on almost every continent — Australia, Canada, Chile, Ghana, Indonesia and the United States. It follows the development of new and operating mines as geologists, engineers and mine managers tackle complex problems and draw on the experiences and achievements of other mine sites to illustrate creative and core concepts of sustainable development and social responsibility.

“We’re proud to be part of an industry that is making such great strides environmentally and socially,” says Philip Kelliher, the Caterpillar regional mining manager in Latin America. “This new generation of mining professionals is doing impressive work, and it has been our privilege to capture their stories and share them with the world. We’re also excited by the opportunity to educate school children about the importance of mining to our world and the steps mining companies take to preserve the environment and help the communities where they operate.”

Exploration in Papua, Indonesia: Chapter 1

Years of systematic groundwork led geologists for PT Freeport Indonesia to the remote highlands of Papua, where they are engaged in a classic treasure hunt in search of a deposit of precious minerals. Advanced imagery tools allow them to “see” inside the rock by examining its magnetism, chemistry and structure. Piece-by-piece, a picture of the geology beneath the jungle is revealed.

Exploration in Papua and Modern mining in Chile's Atacama Desert

Modern mining in Chile’s Atacama Desert: Chapter 2

Chile’s Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on earth, and home to some of the planet’s greatest copper deposits. BHP Billiton extracts this copper at Minera Spence, a mine that is a model of how a modern mine should be run. The mine produces about 200000 tonnes (220,462 short tons) of copper every year, destined for markets around the world, where it will be used in wiring, pipes, electronics, and thousands of other applications.

An important contributor to the worldwide demand for copper, Minera Spence is equally important to the people of the nearby community of Sierra Gorda. The mine focuses on sustainable operations that protect the environment and has developed a culture of safety and teamwork for the workers, many of whom were born and raised in Sierra Gorda.

Mining and the modern world in a typical home: Chapter 3

A quick glance around a typical home in any developed city reveals just how many minerals are used in our everyday lives — all of them extracted from mines around the world. From wallboards and paint, to plastics, electronics and even toothpaste — nearly everything is connected to mining.

Mining and the modern world in a typical home and Engineering challenges in Papua, Indonesia

Engineering challenges in Papua, Indonesia: Chapter 4

As Grasberg mine in Papua, Indonesia, continues to tackle the engineering challenges of this remote part of the world, owner Freeport McMoRan is also committed to developing the local human resource — the Papuans themselves. At the Nemangkawi Mining Institute, Papuans receive the skilled training required to operate the mine, particularly at extreme elevations. New operators train on custom simulators that teach them the techniques needed to be more productive and keep themselves and other workers safe.

Going underground in Sudbury, Canada: Chapter 5

Workers at the Creighton mine in Sudbury, Canada, know all about the challenges of underground mining. Since the first deposit of nickel was discovered there over a century ago, hundreds of underground mines have been dug into the hard rock of the Sudbury Basin, creating a community that is founded on the nickel beneath its feet. Creighton is now one of the deepest mines in the world and one of the most modern.

Yet, even after a century of mining, geologists believe there is still more ore to be found. At an advanced underground exploration station, geologists and geophysicists are using sophisticated tools to look deeper into the rock. If all goes according to plan, the new underground expansion will double the amount of ore in the mine, adding many more years of productivity.

Going underground in Sudbury, Canada and Mining and the community in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana

Mining and the community in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana: Chapter 6

When Newmont Mining introduced mining to the Ahafo region of Ghana, the company knew its most important job was to show the local people how they would benefit from the mine. Newmont learned that the key to a successful project was to communicate regularly with the community, to be transparent, and to listen to the peoples’ concerns.

To make sure locals could qualify for work at the mine, Newmont established training and education programs. At the same time, Newmont and the community started working on a way to foster long-term benefits that would outlast the mine itself. In partnership with Ghanaian and non-governmental organizations, the Livelihood Enhancement and Empowerment Program called LEEP was created. At LEEP, people learn skills not directly related to mining, with the goal of diversifying the economy.

The health of the community was also an important consideration. HIV/AIDS and malaria are very real concerns in this area, so projects that help bring resources to local health clinics, malarial nets into households and educational resources into communities create lasting benefits.

Mining and the environment in North Australia’s rugged outback: Chapter 7

Around the world, mining companies like Xstrata are going to extraordinary efforts to evaluate, monitor and minimize the impact of mining on the environment. The zinc deposit at its McArthur River mine in Northern Australia’s rugged outback lies directly below the riverbed. When the river re-channeling was first proposed, the biggest issue was whether it could be done in an environmentally responsible way. Many aboriginal groups live along the river, and there were concerns about the effects of the mine on the water, the surrounding land, and on the spirit of the river itself.

Xstrata studied the biodiversity of the river so that the new channel would be as close as possible to the river’s natural state. Working with local experts, native plants and seeds were collected and cultivated for planting in and around the new channel. The new river bed was carefully sculpted to create the unique ecosystems that are found in a natural river, including snags made of boulders and tree trunks. The water is monitored constantly by Xstrata and by governmental and non-governmental agencies, and the results communicated to the public.

Mining and the environment in North Australia's rugged outback and Reclamation in Wyoming's Powder River Basin

Reclamation in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin: Chapter 8

In Wyoming, USA, Arch Coal’s Black Thunder operation is mining some of the largest coal seams in the world. The scale of the operation is huge; in fact, this one mine produces almost 9 percent of America’s coal. The seam that Black Thunder is mining is buried under nearly 60 meters (197 feet) of earth and rock that must be removed to access the coal. That overburden is eventually used in the restoration process, carefully planned out before the mine was even opened, and future generations will barely know a mine was ever here.

Teaching new generations

In addition to co-producing Ground Rules, Caterpillar commissioned a set of 75 lesson plans to help educators further examine the themes and concepts presented in the film.

“We’re encouraging everyone in the mining industry to view the film, then share it with their communities and encourage teachers and schools to take advantage of the free curriculum,” says Charlie Zimmerman, a Caterpillar marketing representative.

A series of hands-on classroom activities introduce students to a number of mining topics, including the phases of mining, different types of mines, how ore is processed, how mineral deposits are formed, how modern mines can operate safely and sustainably, and why minerals are important to our everyday lives. This material also introduces students to a wide variety of mining careers.

All of the lesson plans have strong links to the earth science curriculum, but many of the activities incorporate additional connections to math, chemistry, data management, mapping, environmental studies, electricity, magnetism and problem-solving. Materials were developed for three age ranges, 11 to 13, 13 to 15, and 15 to 18.

Visit www.cat.com/groundrules to view the film online, request a free DVD, or download the free educational materials.

ARTICLE TAGS:
Community / Environment
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