The mining industry supports Australia in many ways, supplying the country with valuable resources, bolstering its economy and creating thousands upon thousands of Australian jobs. In saying this, the industry’s benefits to the economy are often overshadowed by a significant challenge – its negative environmental impacts. With society’s shift toward a greener future, many mining companies are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2020, Australia generated around 76 million tonnes of waste. Of this waste, approximately 10 per cent was attributed to metal waste. Scrap metal is a challenge faced by many in the sector due to its creation of unnecessary landfill waste, monetary costs and environmental damage.
If it’s not being recycled, there are two other places that metal could end up – left on-site as an environmental pollutant, or in a landfill. Neither option is ideal, considering the industry’s efforts to do what’s best for the environment, and the fact that landfill space is declining at a rapid rate.
Scrap metal biodegrades at a slower rate than other waste, meaning it takes up landfill space for longer. What’s more, as it degrades, scrap metal left in a landfill poisons the surrounding soil – leading to pollution and a host of other environmental issues. This poses a significant risk, particularly in rural areas where community and organisational impacts are a key consideration.
Luckily, many of these issues can be avoided with a sustainable waste management solution – recycling. So, what are the advantages of recycling metals?
The raw materials used to manufacture metal are not an infinite resource. Eventually, these materials will run out. To ensure that future generations have the same access to resources that we enjoy today, we must conserve them where possible. When you recycle metal waste from your mine site, you’re doing your part to conserve these resources. This means less waste and a more sustainable use of raw resources.
Another environmental benefit of recycling site scrap metal is the impressive energy efficiency. Recycling steel consumes around 75 per cent less energy than manufacturing the metal using raw materials, and when it comes to aluminium, energy is saved by 95 per cent! That means less electricity is wasted, a reduction in carbon pollution and a lower environmental footprint overall.
As well as its environmental benefits, recycling metal waste also provides great financial returns. Scrap metal is purchased at different rates depending on the material and its weight. When it comes to scrap metal, copper is often most desired and provides the greatest value. Brass is also highly regarded for its weight and durability, which is reflected in its selling price. While steel has a lower monetary value, it still provides a financial return and is wise to recycle. Although aluminium provides the lowest financial return, over 80% of aluminium can be recycled, meaning it’s one of the most essential recyclable materials on earth.
So, how do you ensure that your on-site scrap metal is being disposed of sustainably?
At Auscon, we’re industry leaders in scrap metal recycling and specialise in efficient, hassle-free mine site recycling across WA. We deliver complete recycling solutions in the mining sector, performing general site clean-ups and deconstruction of buildings, facilities and site equipment.
We’re dedicated to helping mine sites across WA to reduce their environmental impacts and purchase scrap metal at highly competitive prices. To find out how we can help your organisation, contact us for a free quote (08) 9497 1340 or find out more here.