Tag Archives: circular economy

Vale after ‘change agents’ to solve decarbonisation, circular economy, H&S challenges

Vale is teaming up with the MIT Professional Education, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, SENAI CIMATEC and start-up accelerator The Bakery to help solve challenges related to decarbonisation, the circular economy, and health and safety.

The MINE (Mining Innovation for a New Environment) program is offering 30 professionals the opportunity to help develop and build the future of mining – safer, more sustainable, and more efficient – through open innovation, Vale said.

Applications for the MINE Program 2.0 edition are being accepted from February 5.

“The MINE Program seeks to solve Vale’s strategic problems, develop people and generate a positive impact on society,” it said. “For nine months, between April and December, participants will develop solutions to solve 10 current challenges of the company in the areas of decarbonisation, circular economy, and health and safety.”

These topics were chosen due to their importance to Vale’s strategy of being recognised as a reference in safety, a leader in low-carbon mining and a company that creates and shares value. Fostering development in these fields has the potential to generate a positive impact for society, as they are relevant for everyone and not just for the company, Vale said.

Alexandre Salomão, Manager of PowerShift, a decarbonisation program at Vale, said: “MINE Program was designed to make us rethink the way we work, combining talent, technology and knowledge to solve the biggest mining challenges.”

Marcos Calderon, from Vale’s Open Innovation team, added: “Our goal is to invite the external public to contribute to overcoming global obstacles, forming agents of change capable of helping us to build the mining of the future.”

Vale is responsible for selecting the challenges, mentoring and technical monitoring of the proposed solutions, opening its operations to collaboration from external participants and financing scholarships. Faculty and researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed and developed the program content; SENAI CIMATEC will support and tutor the participants, while the Bakery will be responsible for accelerating the challenges.

To apply for the program it is necessary to have an agile and entrepreneurial mindset, technical knowledge in the area of the challenge, be fluent in English and have a college degree in any subject, Vale said.

“The program is looking for innovative people who know how to work collaboratively to solve problems based on new ideas and approaches,” it added. “The participants must not have any employment commitments, since they will be receiving scholarships in order to be dedicated exclusively to the program.”

The first edition of the MINE Program (pictured before the COVID-19 pandemic) was held between November 2019 and June 2020. Ten challenges were solved in the areas of digital transformation and decarbonisation. Solutions that prove to be viable in the 2.0 edition may be implemented in Vale’s operation.

TOMRA sensor-based ore sorting tech to help miners achieve circular economy

TOMRA Sorting Mining believes its sensor-based ore sorting solutions have a role to play in the new circular economy, helping miners reduce their impact on the environment while remaining profitable.

Last March, the European Commission announced its Circular Economy Action Plan as one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal. This new EU action plan promotes the idea of a circular economy and fosters sustainable processes along the entire lifecycle of products, aiming to ensure the resources used remain in use for as long as possible.

The plan focuses on the sectors that use most resources and where the potential for circularity is high, many of which rely on the mining industry for their raw materials, TOMRA says.

“Mining will play a vital role, as primary resources will continue to be needed due to the growing population and rising per capita consumption, and because it is impossible to close the loop,” the company explained. “They are also used for modern applications in energy production and high-tech products.

“In addition, the sustainable development goals that the United Nations have set up for 2030 are driving the development of green technologies that use a variety of minerals. Mining companies will have to adapt as their customers shift to a circular economy approach, and they will have a key role to play in this transition.”

The development of a circular economy in mining presents both challenges and opportunities for mining companies. It has the potential to address the shortage of mineral resources, waste of resources and environmental pollution while generating economic benefits, according to TOMRA.

“The circular-economy approach prioritises reusing materials over extracting new raw materials,” it said. “However, the need for virgin materials remains, and wherever they are used, their footprint should be as small as possible.”

In order to reduce the footprint of the products they offer, mining companies will need to find ways to maximise the efficiency of their operations and to minimise the use of energy and other inputs, while reducing waste as much as possible.

Dr Mathilde Robben, Key Account Manager at TOMRA Sorting Mining, said: “Climate change and the pursuit of sustainable energy are shaping the global economy of the future, driving the transition from a linear to a circular economy model. The mining industry is already adapting and shifting towards a Green Mining approach.

“As a large consumer of energy, water and chemicals, it is a prime example of a sector where much can be done to reduce the impact on the environment. However, it is vital that it achieves this move towards sustainable practices without losing sight of profitability.”

This is where TOMRA’s advanced sensor-based sorting technologies, using sensors such as X-ray Transmission (XRT), come into play.

Dr Robben continued: “TOMRA’s advanced sensor-based sorting technologies address the main challenges the mining industry faces today, such as declining head grades and increasingly difficult to access orebodies, rising energy and labour costs, and increased environmental liability, while providing a highly cost-effective solution for mining operations to participate in the circular economy and make the most of the new opportunities it brings.”