Applied Environmental Research

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Mining is essential for human health and prosperity, and is increasing as the global populationgrows. The need for minerals appears to conflict with what is commonly understood as 'sustainability',as geological resources are non-renewable on a human timescale. However, the Brundtland definition of sustainability includes the concept of 'needs', implying that there has to be a balanced approach thatconsiders poverty alleviation. It identifies the three pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environmental.In the UK, mining has a legacy extending back over 6000 years. The approach taken to sustainability will be illustrated by 3 examples from northern England. In the 18thand 19thcenturies, the London Lead Company was directed by members of the Religious Society of Friends, and hadsocial sustainability as a high priority, building a village with facilities to promote physical, mental and spiritual healthamongst the mining community. The legacy of this company's mining operations on river water pollution is currently a major problem, reflecting its lackof knowledge of geochemistry.Potash mining started in North Yorkshire in the 1960s, and now there are plans for a new potash mine within the North York Moors National Park.Over 1 km deep, the new mine is planned to be as invisible as possible. Open pit coal mining takes place as part of aconstruction operation in city centreNewcastle, and in nearbyrural locations. Operators take great care to minimize their impact on local populations, adaptingequipment and making sure operations are timed to minimize disturbance.In the UK, one key characteristic of a successful mining operation is that it engages in dialogue with the local community.It is important to involve the community right from the start of planning a mine, even before its location has been finalized. Operators typically have a community fund, and this can be approached by local people to pay for resources that benefit the community, such as sports equipment and facilities. Mining companies need to have a clear plan for restoration, with dates, and some take the opportunity to plan major works of public art as a way of enriching the community with a legacy that can generate income through tourism

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