Sustainability Includes Planet AND People

by on November 22, 2008 at 12:14 am

If you ask five friends what it means to be sustainable, you’ll likely get five varying interpretations. Most response would center on the treatment of the natural environment, or possibly the ability of a business to continue into the future.

On a macro level, sustainability also includes about the health impact of its mining industry, according to The New York Times.

The rate of fatalities in South Africa’s gold mining industry is improving, but still runs at more than four people per week. This is of particular concern to me since I’ll soon be a few thousand feet underground in the TauTona gold mine , as part of the We Blog the World media tour. The Tau Tona mine — the deepest operating mine in the world — has been improving its safety record but experiences dangerous seismic activity.

No enterprise where mother nature has a say in the outcome can ever be 100 percent safe, but it is important that strong guidelines be in place. As long as there is demand for high value minerals and metals, there will be mining, and people will lose their lives.

To ensure that those events are as rare as the metals being mined, the South African parliament is considering a law that would criminally prosecute mining executives — including jail time — for avoidable accidents on their watch. This would be a significant step towards protecting workers and making mining a more sustainable endeavor. All nations should consider such penalties.

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