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Nature's allies: Mining's role in protecting the environment

Minerals and metals play a crucial role in achieving the world’s sustainable development goals.

ICMM members have pledged that they must be produced responsibly - the transition to green energy cannot be at the expense of nature.

To help create a nature positive future, ICMM members follow a 5-point plan for nature:

  1. Protect and conserve pristine areas of our natural environment with no mining or exploration in World Heritage Sites and respect all legally designated protected areas.
  2. Halt biodiversity loss at operation sites: Achieve at least no net loss of biodiversity by closure against a 2020 baseline.
  3. Collaborate across value chains. Develop initiatives and partnerships that halt and reverse nature loss throughout supply and distribution chains.
  4. Restore and enhance landscapes around sites through local partnerships, including with Indigenous Peoples, land connected peoples and local communities.
  5. Catalyse wider change in the fundamental systems that contribute to nature loss and foster opportunities for nature’s recovery.

Mining disturbs less than 0.1% of the world’s land, but it is often situated in ecologically and culturally sensitive areas. ICMM members are working hard to be allies to the natural world, mitigating negative impacts and maximising opportunities for supporting a nature-positive future.

The power of collaboration

The most effective nature-positive outcomes come through collaboration and partnership with business, local communities, NGOs and governments. Here are four examples of how ICMM members are partnering with other organisations to create a better future for the natural world:

  • In northern Chile, Codelco is partnering with the Indigenous community of Chiu Chiu to develop an arboreal corridor of 951 native trees (pepper, chañar and carob) that will be planted between its Talabre site and the community village. Codelco is building the capacity of the community to manage the forest, ensuring that knowledge remains with the Chiu Chiu.

Additionally, Codelco has renovated farms in the local region so that they can serve as conditioning centres for young trees for the corridor, while also resuming agricultural activities in the local area.

  • A 34-acre arboretum is being created at a site close to the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) in Tarkwa, Ghana. The product of a partnership between Gold Fields and the university, the arboretum will enhance the local ecosystem. 

It will house 4,000 trees, including a number of species that are close to extinction or that have been lost from the natural forest and will allow the university’s School of Sustainable Development to establish a programme in Forestry and Landscaping Engineering.

  • In Central Papua, PT Freeport Indonesia is partnering with local contractors on a rehabilitation project of over 4,000 hectares of forest in the Jayapura Regency. At the start of 2023, 168,718 native seedlings had been planted covering an initial area of 153 hectares with many more to come.

The company is continuing to maintain the land until it is handed over to the Environmental and Forestry Agency of Central Papua who will be take over its long-term care.

  • In South Africa, African Rainbow Minerals’ Khumani Mine has established a new conservancy – a protected area for the conservation of nature, including wildlife, plants and ecosystems.

The conservancy is a biodiversity offset area, created through a collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Nature Conservation in the Northern Cape. 

Creating a nature positive future is a shared responsibility. As demand for nature’s resources continues to grow, from food and water through to critical minerals and metal, ICMM members are committed to ensuring a resilient and more equitable future in partnership with local communities, NGOs and governments.