The Scientific American names Swiss Re Business Leader of the Year. I suspect this is based primarily on their e-publications on the implications of climate change and hence insurance costs. An example is the report The effects of climate change: Storm damage in Europe on the rise.

Regardless of your opinion of the reality and/or causes of climate change, I suspect these are the relevant questions for the mining industry:

  • What will climate change mean to the mining industry?
  • How can the mining industry avoid negative impacts of climate change?
  • How can the mining industry benefit from climate change?

Swiss Re has a fascinating report Opportunities and risk of climate change. The report does not address mining, but the broader principles it sets out may be worth considering in trying to answer my three questions.

Another report in a similar vein is from Marsh & McLennan Climate Change Risk. This report reminds us of the opportunities inherent in green industries, the need for appropriate insurance, and adoption of risk management programs.

I can only speculate that the first issue arising from climate change that may affect the mining industry is a growing shortage of water, or at least an increasing cost to getting the water needed to operate a mine. There may be greater social conflict involved in securing access to water between the mine and the surrounding inhabitants. Do we need increased research on minimizing water consumption in mining and processing?

Opportunities for the mining industry associated with climate change must surely lie in provision of the materials that will be needed to build the facilities needed to cope with climate change. The supply of soil and aggregate to build the dikes and berms to limit flood damage is an obvious example.

Another well-worn path on the trail of climate change issues that will affect the mining industry is greenhouse gas emissions. Are there research opportunities in mining industry minimization of green house gas emissions and CO2 sequestration in old mines?

I cannot possibly purport to fully answer these questions myself. If you have ideas or comments, please pass them on to me.

Incidently, one other report I found from Swiss Re that may be of interest to the mining industry is Maintenance—a strategic management tool.