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Miners must reuse and recycle

02 December 2022

Supplied by Aspasa

Surface mining industry association Aspasa continues to encourage its members to handle waste responsibly and to turn excess mining waste into a positive contribution to the environment.

According to the latest available statistics, South Africans generate roughly 122 million tonnes of waste per year. Of this waste, a maximum of only 10% is recycled or recovered for other uses, while at least 90% is landfilled or dumped illegally. Similar figures apply to the mining industry where more can be done to reuse and recycle.

Demonstrating such an example is Labucon which has found a novel way of reusing tyres that are no longer serviceable to build retaining walls. After seeing how successful the projects were, the mine went on to build a demarcation barrier along the internal roadways. “Labucon was established in 1993 and has a large fleet of trucks. With tyres piling up we decided to find a new use for the old tyres to try and make a difference,” says Martie Joubert from Labucon Resources.

As reported by the ‘Tire Industry Project for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’, one billion end of life tyres are generated every year and there are currently four billion such tyres in landfills and stockpiles worldwide.

Innovative recycling and reusing ideas contribute to the reduction of waste to the landfills, guiding the positive impact of reusing disposable waste. “Not only did they reduce the cost of disposal, they also contributed to a cleaner and more sustainable environment,” adds Anthony Bowen, environmental auditor of Aspasa.

Bowen goes on to explain that Aspasa is calling upon all member companies to publicise their examples of good practices “no matter how big or small, utilising waste material better has an impact on the environment and leads the way to innovative methods for the mining industry.”

Because tyre chips are almost three times lighter than gravel with the reduction of frost penetration in cold climates it’s possible to use tyre chips to minimise vibration and noise. Examples of such applications can be seen underneath railway and roads. Other outstanding reuse and recycling projects of ASPASA members include Lafarge Ninians Quarry in Empangeni where manager, Patrick Ndlwana, was personally involved in donating their waste office paper to a special needs home. This brilliant project enabled the home to equip a bakery where they are baking their own bread and selling the excess.

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