EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTING A PRACTICAL MECHANISM FOR INCORPORATING SUSTAINABILITY PRINCIPLES INTO MINERAL PROCESSING PLANT DESIGN AND OPERATION

Green, S.R. and Corder, G.D.

The collaborative development of a new management framework to implement sustainability principles into the minerals (and other) industries has been reported upon previously [1, 2]. The response to date has been that such a framework is required and would add value to business and protect environmental and social values. The ongoing development of SUSOP® has included how to integrate the framework into existing project management and business management systems.

Many organisations, including those in the resources industry have Board-level endorsed principles on sustainability. A key challenge, however, is how to systematically integrate these high-level principles into the design and operation of mineral processing plants. Current project management systems do not readily deliver the innovative solutions that are needed to address key sustainability issues, such as minimal impacts on the environment, significantly lower carbon emissions, and maintaining the societal ‘licence to operate’.

In an effort to meet this challenge the Sustainable Operations framework, called SUSOP®, was conceived and developed through the Co-operative Research Centre for Sustainable Resource Processing (CSRP) in Australia. Somewhat analogous to HAZOP (Hazard and Operability Studies) which is well entrenched in the resources industry, the SUSOP® is a holistic, systematic and rigorous set of processes for identifying and assessing sustainability opportunities and risks within the organising architecture of a sustainability framework.

A multi-faceted approach has been taken in the development of SUSOP®. Utilising the expertise of research and industry collaborators, drawing on the substantial body of published work on sustainable development, and most importantly undertaking ‘live’ case studies with the minerals industry have been critical features in enhancing SUSOP®’s development.

This paper presents the key elements of SUSOP®, how the case studies enhanced its development, and the early results of promoting the use of this new systematic and rigorous approach for embedding sustainability principles into mineral processing plant design and operation.