Roadmap for sustainable mining

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Electrified dump truck in use at VA Erzberg. Photo: VA Erzberg GmbH
Electrified dump truck in use at VA Erzberg. Photo: VA Erzberg GmbH
The EU project SUMEX (Sustainable Management in Extractive Industries) was recently successfully completed after 36 months. As part of the project, a roadmap for a sustainable extractive industry in Europe was created and a database of best practice examples was compiled.

Defining criteria

The most important question that arose at the beginning of the project was: What criteria must a mining operation fulfill in order to be considered sustainable? The first step was to collect examples of best practice. These could be, for example, technological innovations that significantly reduce the environmental impact of a mining operation," explains Michael Tost, who led the project on behalf of the University of Leoben. These were stored in a database - no less than 370 examples - which is freely accessible. A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was also developed to make these examples accessible to an interested public as part of the course and will now be integrated into the RawMaterials Academy of the EIT Raw Materials after the end of the project.

Further steps

An important output is the widest possible dissemination of the roadmap and the best practice examples. "Networks have emerged from the project that want to incorporate their experience into future projects," explains Tost. The MOOC in particular has been very well received; the target group includes authorities, scientists, mining companies and NGOs. The course has also already found its way into teaching: "Students at the University of Leoben have already taken the course and were delighted with it," says the professor.

The EU project SUMEX ran as an EU-funded Horizon 2020 project and lasted 36 months. The Chair of Mining Science, Mining Technology and Mining Economics and the University of Leoben’s External Institute led the project. Other partners came from Spain, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Sweden and Finland.