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Sender : Jan Dharmabandu

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Date : 10 October 2017

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Dharmabandu (The Author), 62 Waterford Avenue, Waterford 6152 Australia.

The copyright remains with the Author unless agreed otherwise in writing.

Jan Dharmabandu
Perth

Author:

Jan Dharmabandu is a mining engineer and a Chartered Environmentalist from Perth Australia
having held mine development responsibilities in Australia, UK, France, Canada, Kazakhstan and
Philippines. He can be found on LinkedIn and via jan.dharmabandu@gmail.com

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Effects of Climate Change on Mining Sector of Western Australia

Jan Dharmabandu

October 2013

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Abstract

Warming of the earths climate system is unequivocal.

Climate change poses both threats and opportunities to the mining sector of Western Australia.
However the opportunities for the WAs mining sector outweigh the threats. While the forecast
threats to the mining operations in WA are manageable, the measures adopted by the global
community will inevitably increase the demand for & revenues from (a) commodities and (b) services
related to advanced methods and technologies for the mining industry elsewhere in the world.
Revenues are likely to increase partly due to the constrained over of supply base, resulting from other
key mineral producing geographies becoming more prone to higher climate and regulatory risks than
Western Australia. To be prepared for the challenges and more importantly, effectively harness the
opportunities the mining operators the mining sector service providers and the governments both
state and federal- must work hand in hand. The focus must be on supporting initiatives to better model
the technical and marketing space in a world of changing climate and invest in the research and
development of new methodologies and technologies that will help the adaptation and allow for the
harnessing of opportunities. WAs mining industry is not so much exposed to the threats from the
physical environment of a changing climate as it is to those arising from the ever more policy vacuum
that is consolidating due to a lack of initiative shown by the political establishments both at state and
federal levels.

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Contents

1. Introduction 5
2. Western Australian mining sector 6
3. Effect of climate change on WA mining sector 8
4. Adaptation 12
5. Opportunities 13
6. EMS techniques to reduce vulnerability 15
7. Application of systems approach 17
8. Cost of blurred vision 19

references 20

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1. Introduction

1.1 Climate change

Climate change means different things to different global organisations just as they mean different
things to individuals. Climate change in IPCC usage refers to a change in the state of the climate that
can be identified (e.g. using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its
properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. It refers to any
change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity (IPCC
2007). This usage differs from that in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC), where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly
to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to
natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods (IPCC 2007). By 2013 the body of
evidence linking human influence on the climate system is much better constructed (IPCC 2013), so
that it is meaningless now to discuss repercussions/ responses to climate change without referencing
to its anthropogenic dimension.

The natural inflows and outflows of carbon to and from the earths atmosphere has been equal for
several thousands of years before the effects of the industrial revolution became apparent around
1800. Since the early 19th century there has been a large and increasing inflow of carbon dioxide into
the atmosphere from human activities. The burning of fossil fuels, cement production and other
industrial processes, as well as deforestation or land clearing, are largely the cause. Emissions from
fossil fuels are the largest source of atmospheric carbon dioxide from human activities. Carbon dioxide
emissions from fossil fuel combustion increased by about 2 per cent per year in the 1970s and 1980s,
and by only around 1 per cent in the 1990s. Between 2000 and 2008, the annual increase in fossil fuel
emissions grew to 3.4 per cent (Garnaut 2011).

Greenhouse gases are a group of gases which have the most significant impact on climate change by
increasing the temperature of earths surface and the lower atmosphere by absorbing and re-emitting
the solar radiations that has been bounced outwards from the earths surface and the atmosphere.
Amongst the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide has the highest relative contribution to globalwarming
(Western Australian Greenhouse Strategy 2004).

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Figure 1: Worlds greenhouse gas emissions 2000. (Stern 2006)

1.2 Climate change in Western Australia

The rising temperature of the earths surface and its lower atmosphere has increased the daily average
temperature throughout Western Australia during the past 90 years. Consistent regional trends in
rainfall changes are also evident during this period. During the last 50 years drying has been evident
along Australias east coast and in Western Australias South West. By contrast northern regions of
Western Australia have shown wetter conditions (Western Australian Greenhouse Strategy 2004).
Global warming will have many severe impacts often mediated through water resulting in declining
crop yields, large scale flooding and critically affecting ecosystems.

In 2002, Western Australia established a Greenhouse Task Force to prepare a Western Australian
Greenhouse Strategy to ensure the States industry and community could contribute to reducing
global greenhouse emissions and effectively respond to any opportunities and challenges generated
by climate change.

The Western Australian Greenhouse Strategy (WAGS) is based on leadership, research, and public
and industry engagement and had following eight key strategies (Western Australian Greenhouse
Strategy 2004);

1. Government leadership
2. Reducing greenhouse emissions.
3. Carbon sequestration
4. New opportunities
5. Adaptation
6. Local government and community involvement
7. Research
8. National and international representation

Among these, the two strategiesRreducing greenhouse emissions and Carbon sequestration, if
leveraged through appropriate regulatory and incentive frameworks, can give clear and quantifiable
leads to the WA mining sector to be immediately responsive.

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2. Western Australian mining sector

In discussing the threats from climate change upon the mining sector in WA as opposed to that upon
mining operators active within WA it is important first to ring fence, for the purpose of this
discussion, what constitutes the mining sector of WA. The mining sector in WA is essentially a
process, the characterisation of whose stakeholders needs careful analysis, since from a very broad
sense almost all socio-economic processes in WA are somewhat and somehow connected to mining.
Mining, oil and gas in Western Australia accounted for almost 90% of the States income from the
merchandise exports in 2008-09 (DMP 2009). From a broad perspective, the stakeholders of WAs
mining industry will be a long list, including the general public, the academia & professional
associations, equipment manufacturers, consultants, state government, mining operators and
investors. In this discussion therefore only the sub-set of the highest power and the highest
interest end stakeholders (Schmeer 1999). That sub-set constitutes of the mining operating
companies, mining services companies and the federal and state governments. While this does narrow
the associated stakeholder base, it separates out the stakeholder subgroup who would be driving the
response agenda of WA mining sector to the threats posed and opportunities presented by a climate
change.

Mining services sub-sector is defined here as those companies that provide services or manufacture
products to the mining industry. Market capitalization for the Australian mining services sub-sector in
March 2012 was just under AUD90 billion (EY 2012).

Figure 2 : Mining services industry index Versus S&P 300 post GFC (EY 2012)

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Figure 3: Comparison of mining and mining services in Australia (Satchewell 2012)

Figures 2 & 3 show the comparative magnitude of the mining services industry in the Australian
economy. Given the reliance of the WA economy on mining, the influences are likely to be even more
amplified in WA. The economic contribution of mining services industry in the economy generally is
not in the phase with that of mining production related revenues. The services industry contributions,
especially that of the consulting services industry tend to peak before the mining production outputs
peak.

3. Effect of climate change on WA mining sector

The most vulnerable industries, settlements and societies to climate change are generally those in
coastal and river flood plains, those whose economies are closely linked with climate-sensitive
resources and those in areas prone to extreme weather events. Poor communities can be especially
vulnerable, in particular those concentrated in high-risk areas (IPCC 2007). In a broad sense none of
those geographical or society domains constitute a major part of WAs mining sector. The key
components of WAs mining sector that would be most vulnerable to a climate change are a half dozen
shipping facilities located along its north western andnorth coast.

The major effects of a climate change on WAs mining industry is likely to manifest through the
transformational movements in the operating costs and sales revenues. While climate change will
bring about challenges, it presents major opportunities for Western Australia too (Western Australian
Greenhouse Strategy 2004).

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The key threats faced by the mining sector in WA can be associated with different phases of mining
project formulation, operation and post operation. These have been illustrated in the output report
from the 2009 CSIRO workshop on Climate Adaptation in the Australian Mining Industry and is
reproduced in Figure 4 below.

Figure 4: Phases of mining (Climate Adaptation in Australian Mining Industry 2009)

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Temperature Caused Rainfall Caused Other
Transmission loss of electricity from generation source to Water supply security Limited capacity for mining companies to change
site under higher temperatures. fundamental planning practices and methods
Pre-mine
Planning

Planning for use of alternative energy generation quickly to meet challenges on longer timescales
technologies onsite (e.g., renewables) Short term expectations for return on investment
(ROI; 18mon) limits capacity to embrace new
technologies and methods
Planning will need to accommodate greater tolerances Water security more difficult to achieve: lower rainfall Need for accurate, comprehensive climate data to
for infrastructure and mine design for more extreme may mean not enough water for community and reduce uncertainty for prefeasibility studies (i.e.,
weather events (i.e., for ports, railways, roads under processing needs implications for financing of operations)
higher temperatures, floods, winds) Compromised waste ponds, mine pits filling up with New ROI equation incorporating cost of carbon,
Mine Planning &
Development

Reduced efficiency of machines under high water, tailings dams bursting increased energy consumption
temperatures. Designing mines with greater tolerances for more or Insurance premiums may increase, increasing
Reduced effectiveness of employees under high less rainfall more expensive further to reinsure after extreme weather event
temperature Relationship between community and mine may
Rescheduling of activities to adapt to new conditions change (e.g., in an automated future less local
(e.g., drilling at night) employment in hotter, drier environments)
Potential increase in land use conflict between
agriculture and mining (i.e., dewatering,
pollutants under and overground, water supply)

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Temperature Caused Rainfall Caused Other
More energy and/or creativity required to cool Operations will need to deal with more or less water Climate variability will dictate production
underground mines (less of an issue if automated) depending on location schedules
Better energy use planning required Tailings dams potentially compromised in a drying Limits to production capacity under future climate
Loss of machine efficiency under hotter conditions context conditions will relate to human tolerances not
More dust Water conflicts: mining can outbid communities and those of machines
Temperature funnel in open pits will make pit floor other groups for water Energy sources may need to change under future
hotter and more difficult to work in for machines and May need to process material with less water conditions (e.g. cost of diesel and its
Production

people (e.g., more energy required to keep people cool) technology limitations? transportation may prompt different sources of
Threats to transport infrastructure (e.g., washouts on energy)
bridges, roads, railways)
Flooding of open pit and underground mines
Better groundwater monitoring and modelling required
More flexible tactical planning and response required to
operate with more frequent extreme weather events
Slope stability implications of greater/less rain
Opportunity to import strategies for dealing with more
water from wetter areas
Tolerances for mine design need to be higher to Increased rain may encourage faster rehabilitation of Variability: design and implementation
Mine Closure

withstand post-mine weather events and change land Different vegetation required in the future than
Tailings dams may fail from flooding (e.g., acid drainage may be used currently in the same location
after failure) Ecological balance may change as some industries
Drainage issues as old roadways become conduits for become unviable mining may be left to control
large amounts of water things like pests when agriculture practices no
longer operating
Difficult to plan for rehabilitation when future conditions Erosion of rehabilitation areas under higher rainfall What do mining communities look like in the
& Rehabilitation

are uncertain (e.g., types of vegetation that grow well future under different climate conditions?
Post-Closure

now may not be the same in the future) Complex interplay of drivers at different mine-life
stages mean planning for closure more complex
under different climate scenarios

Table 1: Implications of Future Climate Variability (Climate Adaptation in Australian Mining Industry 2009)

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4. Adaptation

China shut down 8,347 heavily polluting companies in 2013 in northern Hebei
province, which has the worst air in the country,
In general the threats brought to bear upon the WAs mining sector is not specific to the mining
industry in Western Australia, in the same way the repercussion of climate change is not specific
to Western Australia. None of the items appearing under precipitation or temperature related
threats in the Table 1 above poses an insurmountable engineering challenge. The question
therefore will be that related to the cost.

The perceptions of the mining sectors use of land and water is often misrepresented and
misunderstood. Although the mining sector owns, manages and uses substantial quantities of land
and water, the relative share of water withdrawals and land use by mining activities is a relatively
small portion of total use by other large users of these resources, such as agriculture and irrigation,
urban land users and other industrial users (ICMM 2013). Therefore disruption in the service needs
of mining operations resulting from extreme weathers can only pose a limited and manageable
threat to the mining sector.

Commodity prices on the other hand, once the short term fluctuations of speculative manoeuvring
is removed, surrenders themselves to the basic laws of supply and demand. The challenge of
changing climate upon the Western Australian mining industry is not dissimilar in complexity and
magnitude to challenges it has successfully and over time and again been negotiating since the
beginnings the industry sector in WA in the late 1800s. The proven tradition associated with its
resilience has been to learn to read the demand cycles, collaboration and technological innovation
to produce commodities at a cost below price.

The 2004 Western Australian Greenhouse Strategy emphasizes heavily on the negative effect of
climatic change to the Western Australian economy, environment and society. It perhaps was a
deliberate strategy to jolt the uninformed society into action in response to the Kyoto Protocol of
UNFCCC (UNEP 1998). It should be noted that it was the extremely pro-industry, conservative
government of Richard Court that ruled Western Australia from 1993 to 2001 when UNFCCC
released the final version of the Kyoto Protocol together with the supporting scientific data and
arguments. The next prime-minister from the centre-left Labour party, Dr Geoff Gallop who came
to power in 2001 on a manifesto of social values and reforms undertook to make a strong
statement on the urgency of being proactive on emissions reduction which largely manifested
in the 2004 Western Australian Greenhouse Strategy.

Although the per capita greenhouse gas emissions in Australia is one of the highest in the world,
its national share as a percentage of the global total is small only about one percent. Australian
industry, a ten percent of which is mining (Uren 2011), is responsible for only a quarter of the
Australian total emissions (WAGS 2004). On an average mine site, about half of the energy
consumed is spent on comminution (CEEC 2013).

The major threats posed by climate change to the mining sector in WA, although could be
described as operational in description, can substantially increase the cost of production. The
industry has been adapting counter measures on several fronts (Kachan 2013) as given below;

energy efficiencies: Currently mining industrys energy costs represents 15% of the total
cost of production. Its estimated that comminution consumes 3% of the worlds
electricity production. Studies suggest there are savings as much as 70% to be had in

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increasing the efficiency of grinding and materials handling. For example, making moves
in the right direction, Swedish mining equipment manufacturer Sandvik designed
Vibrocone grinding system which has been claimed to consume 20% less energy than the
conventional SAG mill that it competes to replace (Kachan 2013).
Operational optimisation: manufacturers of mine planning and operations control
software systems such as Dassault Systems and Mintec has made tremendous
improvements in optimising mine haul road networks and pit/dump designs to minimise
haulage effort and optimise equipment usage.
biotics: operating companies and makers of technologies have joined hands to prove
commercial use of bacteria and other micro-organisms for extracting base metals from
ore and bio-remediation which is the treatment of contaminated soil through the use of
biological agents to neutralize pollutants. A branch of this technology is called
phytoremediation which removes pollutants through a plant type called hyper-
accumulators. These plants are used to bioaccumulate contaminants found at a minesite
(Kachan 2013)
emissions reduction: the mining industry is the most significant polluter of toxic emissions,
releasing more chemicals into the environment than any other industry. (Sustainable
Businesss 2013). Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are emitted through many
steps of the production chain ranging from exploration to production. Other type of
emissions such as dust and diesel particulates can contribute destruction of vegetation
cover.

5. Opportunities

The Western Australian mining industry is taking steps to mitigate its contribution towards climate
change by reducing emissions. However, its future strategy should focus on developing
methodologies to control production costs and models to analyse and help forecast sales
revenues, metamorphosed by an environment of the changing climate. The sector should not be
hung up in a guilt driven mind-set focussing heavily on mitigation of negative effects. Those who
point to increasing disaster losses as a signal of human-caused climate change are doing no
favours for those working to address growing losses and accumulating greenhouse gases in the
atmosphere. (The conversation 2013).

The way the society handled the millennium bug (Y2K) threat in moving from year 1999 to 2000 is
a good example for the way that society responds to a perceived collective threat. Although it
would be nowhere near the costs associated with climate change issues, the total cost of work
done in preparation for Y2K is estimated to be over US$600 billion in todays dollars. To-date there
is much debate over the magnitude of the actual threat that ever existed (Business Journal 2000).
From the second half of 1998 to the end of 1999, all of a sudden, the salaries of IT engineers who
could fix these programs went through the roof. Companies had been aware of the problem for a
long time but a lot of them had procrastinated, and at once, everybody wanted these engineers
and there were not enough of them to satisfy the demand for their skills and services (Bardot
2012).

A world feeling anxious about the impact of climate change will invest heavily in countering it.
Whatever upward pressures that climate change may bring to bear on the mining production,
costs are likely to be more than compensated by price increases created by higher demand for
certain types of commodities.

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Major corporations are increasingly aware that environmental risks that threaten their business
model and long-term profitability and pose branding liabilities. Without more sustainable
methods for sourcing raw materials, companies risk destroying the security of supply on which
their trade and profitability depends. An MIT survey of over 3,000 corporate executives across the
world found that well over half of these executives believe that focusing on sustainability
contributes to long term profitability. This is why companies increasingly highlight environmental
sustainability, and forest conservation in particular, as a core value when marketing their brands.
In addition, reputational risks from poor environmental practices, including deforestation, have
never been greater for major companies. Selling products made in environmentally destructive
ways intensifies reputational risks (Wolosin 2013). With such corporate policies and driven by
lending rules of investment banks shaped by appropriate national and international policy
dispensations, developing mining projects in tropical, forested countries will be relatively more
expensive. Western Australia will be in a relatively advantageous position due to the fact mining
projects in the state are almost always located in sparsely vegetated land, its mining industry has
developed world acclaimed post mining rehabilitation and re-vegetation techniques (Seiser 2002).

Australian mining industry, in which WA mining sector is the majority component has introduced
many innovations to the mining industry. Some of the more important contributions include (a)
new technologies such as flotation technology (Thompson & Macklin 2009), road trains
(Patrascu 2009), (b) operational methodologies such as FIFO and Remote Mining where Rio
Tintos Operations Centre, first of its kind in the world, in Perth operates trucks and drills in Pilbara
1300kms away and planning to automate iron ore railway to Port Headland. Goodbye humans,
hello automation: Rio Tinto ditching $225k/year drivers in Pilbara (Mining News 2013) (c) public
disclosure standards and control mechanisms such as the AusIMMs Joint Ore Reserve Committee
(JORC) code, aimed at improving transparency & safeguarding stakeholder interests, for reporting
mineral resources. JORC code has provided the blue print for similar codes all over the world.

Trend setting organisations in other parts of the world are busy characterizing the risks and
opportunities associated with climate change. Recently the US biotech giant Monsanto said that
it will pay just below USD1 billion to buy The Climate Corporation, a Silicon Valley start-up
specializing in weather analytics and risk management (Internet Oct 2013). In 2010 29 large
European multinationals issued a joint forecast that EU needs to race to the top in the low carbon
economy to be competitive in the global low carbon products and services market place. They also
forecastthat climate action will boost economic growth, create new jobs (CPSL 2010).

The above example from European business leaders gives clues for the logical strategic direction
that the WA mining sector should follow. Yet out of about 100 significant mining service
companies, Figure 5 shows that only two spend more than $10 million a year on research and
development in Australia. In magnitude this would be even less than a mere rounding error in a
R&D budget of a large multinational mining service company like Caterpillar whose R&D budget
over 2011 and 2012 averaged close to $2.5 billion (CAT 2013).

One of the endeavours that the key Western Australian mining sector stakeholders - mining
companies, mining services companies and the state government - have to collectively shoulder
is finding sufficient funds to develop commodity demand models in a world responding to the
impact of climate change.

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Figure 5: R&D expenditure by Australian mining services sector in 2008-09 (Scott-Kemmis 2013)

6. EMS techniques to reduce vulnerability

The nature of the mining and metals business already requires companies to address risks from
variable weather, changing environments and challenging geographies. Many of the approaches,
tools, information, resources and people necessary for identifying and adapting to climate risks and
opportunities are likely to already exist within companies, even if these activities or resources do not
currently incorporate climate change considerations. Examples of existing functions in mining and
metals companies that are relevant to adapting to climate change impacts include (ICMM 2013)

internal risk management policies, procedures and assessment


emergency response planning
asset management
capital and long-term planning
environmental health and safety programs
biodiversity management
community engagement
financial and sustainability measurement and reporting
dealing with uncertainty in business and operational decision making.

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM 2013) develops a framework for mining
companies for adapting to climate change. Its methodology is informed by several existing
methodologies for framing responses to climate change including the Canadian National Roundtable
on the Environment and the Economy (NRT 2012) , the UK Climate Impacts Programs Identifying
Adaptation Options guidance (UKCIP 2008), Tiempo (2013), the Asian Development Bank (ADB
2005), Freed and Sussmans (2008) business approach for adapting to climate change, and a review
of recent mining and metals company responses to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

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Figure 6. Adaptation framework (IMCC 2013)

Each of the six categories in the framework (Figure 6) is defined by a list of activities that companies
can undertake to help them to respond to a changing climate. These activities are often motivated
by current risks, such as extreme weather impacts, the presence of vector-borne diseases or limited
water availability, but they also provide co-benefits from increased resilience to future climate
change risks, or by enabling companies to harness opportunities. (IMCC 2013)

The systems available for the mining and metals companies to identify, prioritize and manage risks
and opportunities extends also to the areas of quality management, accident prevention and
continuous improvement. Consequently, companies can use these existing resources and expertise
to incorporate climate change considerations and adaptation strategies into business and
operational activity models.

Although the methodologies to administrate climate adaptation may well be available to an


organisation, in the absence of clearly & externally defined goals being available, the system will not
be appropriately leveraged to find its direction. In Figure 6 such leveraging is generated and
introduced to the operating loop of the system comes from the green box to the left where
objectives are defined, the context is promulgated (awareness), programs are designed
(engagement). These operating loops have strong self-organising dimensions in them such as those
demanded by ISO 14000 and ISO 9000 that lays down standards in case of environmental and quality
management standards. The goal of a system (however) is a leverage point superior to the self-
organising ability of a system (Meadows 1999). In the case of an adaptation framework applicable to
the mining sector of Western Australia these leverage points are essentially defined by the policy
dispensations of the federal and state governments.

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7. Application of systems approach

Figure 7 : Elements of Environmental Management (Thomas & Murfitt 2011)

As Figure 7 illustrates, achievement of ecological sustainability will rely on many activities. It is a


representation of the way in which environmental management systems (EMS), Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA) and associated tools relate to environmental management and ecological
sustainability. It also illustrates their broad connections to social and environmental changes and to
the values held by the community (Thomas & Murfitt 2011).

Vulnerability refers to the inability to withstand the effects of a hostile environment (Wikipedia). In a
sector-wide SWOT analysis, if the strengths are much broader than the weaknesses and if the
opportunities are more abundant than threats, there is an opportunity cost in focusing on
vulnerabilities.

As shown in Figure 7, the zenith goal Ecological Sustainability or ecologically sustainable


development is the generally accepted goal of governments and communities worldwide. There are
underlying principles that are generally accepted. In addition to the social equity, the principals that
relate to the environment are broadly;

a) avoiding or minimising wastes,


b) avoiding or minimising pollution,
c) minimising the use of resources,
d) protecting biodiversity.

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Figure 8: Greenhouse gas emissions from major Australian sectors 1990-2004. (Beeton et al 2006)

Under Impacts & Costs of climate change for Western Australia, Carbon Planet (2013) lists 10 key
impacts and sectors that would have severe impacts. The mining sector is not amongst them. As shown
in Figure 8 the Carbon foot print of Australian mining industry whose emission contribution is only
25% of the industrial processes, and when this is viewed against its contribution to the economy is
quite tolerable.

Environmental management (and therefore the deployment of its tools) could only be conducted
within a structured framework. The policy is the capstone the environmental management system. To
achieve any goal in a particular area of government (or corporate governance), policy may include
environmental protection legislation which involves trade-offs between social, political and economic
considerations. In most environmental fields attempts to achieve these goals involve the development
of strategies and the use of tactics. (ENV619 M3 2013)

Western Australian mining sector has at its fingertips much of the tools that it needs to face the
challenges predicted as a result of climate change. Critical high leverage tools that are missing would
be those constituting mechanisms, facilities and expertise to model, analyze the opportunities and
synthesize policies that will prepare WA mining sector to an environment of changing climate.

Figure 7 shows that the final goals of an environmental management system, whether they are goals
of a government or a governing body corporate, are articulated by a policy framework, which amongst
other things, references the system domain to the external word its demands and its descriptions.

The key to the EMS is the environmental policy. The policy sets the broad directions for the
organisations environmental management, in other words, what it wants to achieve. But policy work
at government level is inherently political. In order to influence a policy decision, a particular value
such as the importance of the environment must have power over other values (Thomas & Murfitt
2011).

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8. Cost of blurred vision

The Australian and Western Australian mining sector will struggle to make the transition to a low-
carbon, climate change oriented operating mode when there is a political elite that is either pre-
occupied with horse dealing for political survival or have shown outright hostility towards established
science.

Portney (1992) points out that the issues attention cycle as developed by Downs describes the policy
process as following a series of stages. These stages are generally:

1. A period of selective awareness or pre-problem stage, where public attention is


generally lacking
2. Alarmed discovery and euphoric enthusiasm that follows from some dramatic event
(or series of events) as public awareness is raised and pressure develops for the
government to do something.
3. A period of activity that involves discussion and the publicity of ideas and options;
realisation of the cost of significant progress follows when the effort needed to take
action becomes appreciated.
4. A period of reassurance when people feel that something is being done.
5. A period of non-interest when public enthusiasm dies down as the costs and sacrifices
involved in taking action become apparent.
6. A re-emergence of post-problem stage when public interest has declined, but when
public policy or programs may be initiated to tackle the problem, or when interest
dissipates completely until another event occurs to rekindle concern.

The broader national debate on emission control is stuck somewhere in these stages which Portney
(1992) argues goes on to form a loop. Before an effective framework is borne, the debate, Portney
(1992) seems to argue would go round and round stuck in this loop. Portney (1992) also seems to
suggest that such a framework is likely to arrive by revolution rather than evolution.

While the frameworks for addressing the challenges of WA mining sector for countering effects of a
climate change has to take place within that broader national debate, WAs challenges and
opportunities stand out on their own. WA mining industry is not so much exposed to the threats from
the physical environment of a changing climate as it is to those arising from the policy vacuum created
due to lack of foresightedness shown by the political leaders from both federal and state political
landscapes.

The federal election of 2007 has been described as the worlds first climate change election. In that
year, over 65% of the Australian population had indicated significant concern about the effects of
climate change, and a similar figure supported strong domestic and international action to tackle
climate change. Yet by mid-2010, the centerpiece of the ALPs climate policy (the CPRS) had twice
been rejected by the Senate. ( UQ 2013)

Until a robust policy framework is formulated, the established systems techniques available under
environmental management will not be effective in shaping the discourse of the mining sector of WA
in an environment of changing climate.

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End.

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