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What inspires you?

Mining companies understand that they have a responsibility to look after the land, freshwater, oceans and atmosphere where they operate.

ICMM members are committed to responsible stewardship and are working to contribute towards a nature positive future, where biodiversity and ecosystems are left in better shape than before.
 
But it is important not to lose sight of the fact that a company is only as good – or as committed to environmental change – as its people.

Below, we meet some of the inspirational people who are helping to turn ICMM members’ environmental commitments into reality.

Sowing seeds in Queensland, Australia

Anna is the Rehabilitation and Closure Advisor at Rio Tinto’s Weipa operations in Far North Queensland. Bauxite has been mined there since 1963, an essential ingredient in the making of aluminium, which is in great demand for the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Today, Anna works with community seed collectors to restore land after mining.

“I've lived in Weipa nearly my whole life,” she says. “So rehabilitation is very important to me and many others who have lived in Weipa for so long. We need to make sure that we’re taking care of the landscape for generations to come.”

Rio Tinto is rehabilitating mined land with culturally significant species of native plants, using seeds collected by the community themselves, and in collaboration with Traditional Owners.

Engaging with local groups and learning from Indigenous communities is essential in ensuring that the right species of plants are returned to the rights parts of Country.

“It's important for the Traditional Owners to feel confident the right plant species are coming back in the rehabilitation,” Anna says. “So there's medicinal value, there's a food source and it encourages animals to return.”

Animals are a key part of any ecosystem and vital to boosting biodiversity. Many animals have returned to the rehabilitated areas, including skinks and goannas, and various birds including kingfishers, which have started nesting in the wetlands.

Anna is clear on what inspires her work: “Above all, our team prides ourselves on having the Traditional Owners come and see the species of seed that they’ve collected now thriving in the rehabilitated land.

“When we hear them say their ancestors would be happy that Country has been returned to this landscape, that’s probably the highest accolade we could receive – it makes me feel incredibly proud.”

Creating lasting change

Jordan is an Environmental Adviser in Rio Tinto’s Closure team in Canada, which actively manages more than 90 sites in 9 countries.

Every site has a closure plan in place before any mining is started, including rehabilitation of the land and ecosystems. 

“That’s where I come in,” Jordan says. “I help manage the governance and assurance of our remediation efforts, ensuring we meet all the environmental standards required for the safe and ecologically responsible management of the site once it closes."

Working as an ecologist within the mining industry means that she is sometimes asked how she reconciles her love for the environment with the impact of mining. Jordan explains that she chose her career for precisely this reason, because it gives her the opportunity to make tangible and lasting change for the environment.

“Believe it or not, some of the most passionate environmentalists, ecologists, engineers, and sustainability professionals I’ve met have been people in the metals and mining industry, because this is where we can make tangible, positive, and lasting change for the planet,” Jordan says.

“Sustainable business practices, impeccable ESG credentials, and environmental stewardship are no longer fringe ideologies in the global corporate space – they’re the bare minimum, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play my part in that progress.”

From Australia to Canada, Anna and Jordan are just two of the people in the mining industry who are making it their mission to help the environment. Whether it is working to boost biodiversity at closed sites, partnering with Traditional Owners to restore land or looking after vital water supplies in water scarce areas, they continue to inspire others to do more, and to go further, in creating a nature positive future.