Mining is a robust industry that plays a key role in a nation's economy. Large multi-national companies dominate the industry but small enterprises and individual entrepreneurs are also keen on taking a slice of the market pie. Small or large, mining companies are facing many challenges that are critical to the success of the operation as whole. The urgency to address such challenges and make feasible and effective solutions is a challenge in itself. Thus, the mining sector must be able to identify these challenges at the outset and make careful but quick decisions to improve overall operations. Here are some of those main challenges.
Safety and Health of Miners
Working in a mine is considered to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Operating and working with heavy machinery can pose a threat to miners. Cave-ins, explosions, and electrocution are possible occurrence in a mining site. Fatalities have been reported in many mines around the world. In China alone, an estimated 5,000 workers die each year from accidents.
Health of the miners is also a huge concern. Being exposed to various gases and chemicals in a mining site puts people at risk for various health problems. This can poison the miners and reduce oxygen levels in underground sites, which can then cause asphyxiation and other potential health problems. Some suffer from hearing loss due to the operation of equipment that produces high-level noise.
While there are many improvements in mining operations to reduce the risks and provide better working environment for miners, it's an ongoing effort to identify possible pitfalls and incorporate the appropriate and effective safety measures to prevent risks. Investing in modern technology is often a necessity just to ensure the safety and health of miners.
Aside from actual equipment and operational improvement, giving importance on mental health and wellbeing is another step towards workforce health innovation. Not only do miners experience physical strain and fatigue but emotional and mental stress as well. Good physical and mental health of miners is key to an efficient and well-oiled operation.
Because mining is a demanding and stressful job, plus many workers are away from their families and subjected to high-level risks, emotional distress and work pressures can lead to poor performance. And any weak link in the operation can be a risk in itself. Slight human error can possibly cause a disaster in the operation. That is why human resource programs are geared towards addressing challenges in that aspect. Retaining a positive work relationship and workplace culture, providing counseling and creating team building seminars and training will be an important aspect of safety and health administration.
High Energy Consumption and Environmental Concerns
Energy consumption in the mining industry is high. Mining companies would definitely need sufficient electricity supply for heavy equipment, machineries, and other systems. With major concerns regarding carbon footprint and its effect to the environment, more and more mining companies are encourage to improve operations and achieve a certain level of energy efficiency. With many countries introducing carbon tax, mining companies would have to make adjustments to their operation to reduce their energy consumption.
Not only do energy consumption affect the environment as a whole, the mining activities and operations also affect the ecosystem and environment within and surrounding the mining site. To prevent environmental degradation, there must be a certain environmental plan before, during, and after mining. This goal is that after the mining operation and the mine has been closed, the environment there could still flourish and develop well without the toxic wastes that many mines can leave behind. Government regulations are there to ensure that mining practices are safe and friendly to environment as well.
For every challenge in the mining industry, there's always an answer and a solution. A mining company just has to be aware of developments and trends that could possibly help in improving mining operations. You can read more about it at MiningIQ.
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Howard Smith is a corporate consultant, focusing on business development and risk management. He likes to share his knowledge about various industries and write about corporate solutions, sustainability, and management. If you're interested to know more about mining, visit this page.
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