When it comes to achieving a sustainable and inclusive growth, mining industry has very few parallels. This is mostly because, it is a labour-intensive, and hence has a huge potential for employment generation. Also, since the geographical distribution of minerals is a location specific, it’s mining, brings economic activities in rural, backward and remote areas. Thus contributes to inclusive growth, which is more sustainable.
Over the years, increased focus on sustainable and inclusive growth has resulted in attracting responsible players into mining arena. Many government initiatives such as E-auctioning of mineral resources, are resulting in mining sector more transparent and a level playing field.
At JSW, we are proud to state that all of our mines are received through transparent e-auction process. Further, we are striving towards social, economical and environmental performances, as it is our constant endeavour to adopt best practices and to lead by taking path breaking initiatives.
Setting an example of responsive mining is always a challenge, more so, when the mines received through e-auction, have a vast history of irregularities in terms of scientific and sustainable mining practices, coupled with colossal damages caused to the environment. Here, our efforts began with restoring the damaged landscapes through systematic and scientific efforts, through rigorous implementation of site specific reclamation and rehabilitation plan. On social fronts too, before we commenced our mining operations, we had identified Direct Impact Zone (DIZ) villages in the neighbouring villages of these mines and initiated robust CSR initiatives. For us this is robust beginning towards the social inclusiveness growth model.
We are proud to say here that all our operational mines that were assessed by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) for Star Rating on Sustainability, have achieved a minimum of 4-star ratings.
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Investment in infrastructure and innovation are crucial drivers of economic growth and development. Technological progress is also the key to finding solutions to both economic and environmental challenges, such as providing sustainable means of transporting materials to minimise loss of resources.
- Pipe Conveyor
The Vijayanagar plant currently churns out 12 million tonne of steel a year, and requires about 22 million tonne of iron ore. Transportation of such large quantities of raw material contributes to the upstream GHG emissions of the company. JSW has drafted its carbon strategy which includes steps to reduce the carbon footprint of not only its own operations but also of the upstream and downstream activities. As a part of this strategy and also to secure raw material availability, JSW bought mines in the surrounding areas of Karnataka. JSW Steel’s Vijaynagar Works has commissioned a 24 km pipe conveyor, the world’s largest of its kind, to transport raw material from iron ore mining site to the manufacturing unit. This is expected to bring significant benefits in terms of reduced inbound logistics costs, contained material losses, improved safety and minimized carbon footprint. It is expected to achieve a CO2 emission reduction of nearly 3.86 kg/tonne of iron ore transported. Until recently, bulk materials such as iron ore, iron ore fines, coal, limestone and dolomite were being received through wagon tippler arrangement from where they were carried to the storage yard through trucks. With the Pipe Conveyor project, JSW Steel has been able to limit the usage of trucks, thus saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions and dust generation from the roads, while improving safety.
In addition to the conveyor system for the procured bulk materials, proposals have also been made for conveyor systems for handling raw materials such as BF return fines, coke fines, coal, coke, etc. This has helped the Company to ensure that there is no spillage of raw material while eliminating the need for diesel trucks for transportation, which has then further lowered the Company’s environmental footprint and minimized road accidents. Upcoming projects include downhill conveyors from newly acquired mines up to the ore yard and remaining segments of the pipe conveyor system to ensure improved connectivity and seamless transport of raw material.
- Digital Mining
JSW Steel is the only mine operator in Karnataka to have instated an end-to-end digital mining ecosystem. Every mining operation is digitally managed by key personnel on a tablet. The direction and load of the entire fleet are also controlled digitally. With the success of this model in Karnataka, we are now taking our expertise to the mines in Odisha as well.
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume good and resources. The efficient management of our shared natural resources is important to achieve this goal.
- Reclamation and Rehabilitation Plans
The basic objectives of the R&R Plans are:
- to carryout time bound reclamation and rehabilitation of the areas under illegal mining
- to ensure scientific and environmentally sustainable mining.
- to ensure compliance with standards stipulated under the environment / mining statutes
- regular and effective monitoring, evaluation and corrective measures.
The Comprehensive Environment Plan for Mining Impact Zone (CEPMIZ) for the areas surrounding the mining:
- Bio-diversity Conservation Plan
- Afforestation and Soil Moisture Conservation Plan
- Physical Infrastructure Development Plan
- Social Infrastructure Development Plan
- Regional Monitoring Plan and Mechanism
SDG 13: Climate Action
Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, and weather events are becoming more extreme. To counter climate change we need to be prepared on all fronts and reduce our environmental footprint in all spheres.
At JSW Mines, it is made sure that the surroundings of mines are reclaimed, rehabilitated and restored to their former glory. Implementation of R&R plans is done with utmost precaution and precision taking in account the local dynamics and providing communities with the centre stage.
- Dust Suppression
It is done by avenue plantations, usage of covered transportation, water sprinkling on haul roads, using the latest technology (wet drilling with dust extraction) and by usage water gun at crushing & screening units. Some long term measures include capital expansion of INR 16 crores- which has been approved for laying 24 km processed water pipeline, of which a 4 km pipeline is completed. This is aimed at:
- Avoiding use of fresh water for dust suppression, avoiding forest land by using existing MPC corridor
- Promoting used / processed (recycled) water for dust suppression (reuse)
- Demonstrating sustainability of operations in water scarce areas like Bellary
- Reducing competition on fresh water with local farming community
SDG 15: Life on Land
Human life depends on the earth and its biodiversity for sustenance and livelihood. Life on land, especially of other species, is threatened continuously by the actions of humans. It’s important to embark on journeys of transformation to practice mutually beneficial coexistence with other living organisms.
- Wildlife Management Plan
- Robust plans are being implemented for documenting and conserving biodiversity.
- Comprehensives Mines Restoration Plan (R&R) for 6 mines was implemented with water conservation structures.
- Soil moisture conservation plans prepared for conservation and thriving of flora and fauna.
- Artificial bird nests made from biodegradable materials supplied to the Forest Department.
- Green-belt and afforestation activities carried out in surrounding regions.
- Rain Water Harvesting Pits and Gabion Check Dams have been made at various sites.
Our tailings management area is situated on the eastern boundary of the Vijayanagar plant. The area features a well-maintained tailings pond that receives tailings from the ore beneficiation plant. These tailings primarily comprise low-grade iron ore that is transported in slurry form via pipeline and stored in the lined tailings pond. The excess water, or supernatant, is returned to the beneficiation plant.
The geosyncline on which the pond is constructed has a hard impervious rock bottom, and the project site has been subjected to various geophysical, hydrogeological, and TCLP tests, along with an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), conducted by reputable institutes and companies such as MECON and Richardson & Cruddas to confirm its safety and health.
Specialists collaborated on constructing bunds using pre-engineered designs and water recovery facilities to prevent seepage from the pond. The bund's base is made of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), ensuring its stability.
The pond complex comprises three ponds, namely Pond 1, Pond 2, and Pond 3. Pond 1 is currently being emptied using a dredger, and the paste obtained is sent to the Slime Recovery Plant (SRP). The SRP retrieves >45% Fe bearing material, which is sent to the Pellet Plant for pelletisation, while the tailings with <45% Fe from SRP are transferred to Pond 2. Pond 3 receives tailings from the ore beneficiation, and the tailings are thickened for paste transportation, and dewatering is done to improve the bund's stability.
Our approach to Tailings Management covers our own operations; ensures that we minimize impacts and risks through responsible site selection, design, and construction; and adheres to the best practices of TSF management. We also ensure avoidance of riverine/submarine tailings disposals in all projects.
We have also implemented a robust surveillance & monitoring system to identify and manage risks, including but not limited to the design phase, and implementation phase, till closure of the TSFs life cycle. These are also part of the tailings storage facility plan. We also have a dedicated Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP) which is developed in line with the local regulations. We are committed to ensure the closure of tailings facilities when applicable, in line with the applicable statutory regulations. Further, we would report any TSF failure including loss of containment, overspill of tailings dam, breach of the tailings dam, and slope failure in a tailings dam, if any. Our efforts have ensured that we did not have any TSF failures in the last four fiscal years.
Asset Closure Management
All our existing mines are currently operational. However, we believe that successful mine closure is an essential part of responsible mining. We are committed to closing our mines in a way that minimizes environmental impacts, protects public health and safety, and ensures that the land is restored to the best possible conditions.
We plan for mine closure from the very beginning of a mining project. We work with all stakeholders, including local communities, governments, and environmental groups, to develop a comprehensive progressive mine closure plan. This plan includes a timeline for closure, a budget for reclamation, and a description of the steps that will be taken to restore the land.
The plans are regularly reviewed to ensure that the scope of work is comprehensive and up-to-date, as new technologies and regulations may be developed over time that could impact the closure process and also helps to ensure that the cost estimates for mine closure process are accurate.
As part of our sustainability commitments, we have an approach of ensuring that local communities are not deprived of any resources or capital once a mine is closed. As part of this approach, we conduct social baseline studies to understand the social, economic, and environmental impacts of our mining operations on local communities. We engage with stakeholders throughout the closure process to ensure that their concerns are addressed. Social impact assessments are conducted during the run-up to closure to understand the potential impacts of our closure plan on the local communities.
The result of the assessment is utilized to develop closure-related mitigation plans that outline the steps that will be taken to address any potential risks or impacts associated with mine closure. This helps to mitigate the negative impacts of closure and to ensure that local communities can continue to thrive.
We conduct concurrent reclamation during operations to minimize long-term closure liabilities. This means that we are rehabilitating the mine as it is being mined. This helps to minimize long-term closure liabilities and can also improve the social and environmental impacts of mining.
In the event of divestment, we ensure that a formal agreement is in place with the purchaser which fulfills a minimum set of mine closure requirements and are protected from future liability. We make financial provisions for divestments, subject to our internal controls and assurance, which support delivery of closure and post-closure commitments. The agreement ensures that the mine is closed in a responsible manner and that the environment is protected.
Acid Mine Drainage Management
Acid Mine Drainage is not applicable in our mines as no acidic material is present in the mining area. However, we assess the potential for ARD and develop mitigation measures towards the same as part of our mining plan as per the EIA regulations. These measures shall be included in our mine plan which may include:
- Using alternative mining methods that reduce the amount of sulfide-bearing rock that is exposed to air and water.
- Covering waste rock piles with an impermeable layer to prevent water from contacting the rock.
- Installing drainage systems to collect and treat ARD.
- Reclaiming abandoned mines to prevent ARD from forming.
All our mining locations are compliant with the EIA regulations and we have assessed the potential of ARD at all our mining locations. The assessment has determined that our mining locations do not have any acidic material.