Sustainability Features

Chemicals between us – an insight into the petrochemical industry

For those less familiar with the scientific marvel, petrochemicals are chemical products derived from petroleum. Some chemical compounds made from petroleum are also obtained from other
fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas, or renewable sources such as corn or sugar cane.The topic of petrochemicals has very rarely been given much attention in MMPR, so PetroSA Chief Economist Dr Mxolisi Landu kindly spoke to us to provide the right kind of insight.Comment on petrochemicals and miningThere is a strong connection between the two industries (mining and petroleum, as opposed to petrochemical) owing to backward and forward linkages right across the value chain from upstream exploration and production, midstream (including petrochemical facilities and refineries), and retail.

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A power station case study

Through the generation of electricity, Eskom continuously evaluates all the processes in the production of electricity to carefully manage their impact on the environment. Coal-fired power stations produce the bulk of electricity in South Africa through processes that are potentially harmful to the environment. Over and above the general environmental control measures and management processes in place, continuous research is done to implement new and improved technology to minimise the power stations’ impact on the environment. It is important to strike a balance between implementing such technology and the cost of producing electricity.

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Some solutions to pollution

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When it comes to industry, the environment falls under the firing line. Certain industries have varying effects depending on which sector you are looking at.

The environmental impact of mining includes loss of biodiversity, and air pollution, as well as contamination of soil, groundwater, and surface water by chemicals from mining processes. Besides the environment, the well-being of the local population also becomes affected.

Erosion of exposed hillsides, mine dumps, tailings dams, and resultant siltation of drainages, creeks and rivers can significantly impact the surrounding areas.

In areas of wilderness, mining may cause destruction and disturbance of ecosystems and habitats, and in areas of farming it may disturb or destroy productive grazing and croplands.
In urbanised environments, mining may produce noise, dust, and visual pollution.

Click here to read the full feature article on page 17 of the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of MMPR ...

Save our sources

Mining companies need to align themselves with sustainable business practices.

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Mining companies need to align themselves with sustainable business practices if they want to enhance their image and show that they are the ones taking a stand against environmental unfriendliness.

Saving electricity
Eskom has set an example in stating that all sectors of the economy can reap major benefits from implementing major energy-efficiency policies. In doing so, companies can reduce input costs, increase return on investment, and reduce the environmental impact.

Eskom has identified a number of areas that chew electricity in a big way. These include materials handling, processing, compressed air, pumping and fans, as well as industrial cooling and lighting.
As a result, Eskom has listed a number of ways and means to save electricity through means of basic tips.

Click here to read the full feature article on page 19 in the Mar/Apr issue of MMPR ...

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