Climate change and its direct impacts will increasingly define this century, and work within it. Changing weather patterns will ultimately lead to changing work practices, especially in the unwelcoming outback and its many mining operations.
Miners must now face up to a raft of small concerns that will together change how business functions. Climate models give some insight into how the environment might change, but they cannot spell out the numerous measures that companies will need to take in order to navigate the, literally, stormier seas ahead.
So, how will global warming and future weather affect mining in Australia?
What to expect
Data from the Australian Government’s Bureau of Meteorology shows the expected heat rise over the next 20 years. This temperature change seems the most pertinent challenge, but it will cause a range of more direct impacts to miners.
Australia’s Construction Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) national research director Peter Colley says: “Mining in Australia generally takes place under adverse conditions already, so there is already a practice of designing operations to cope with that adversity. However, global warming will undoubtedly increase the intensity of the problems.
“Mining in Australia generally takes place in harsh and remote locations – generally very dry and subject to temperature extremes. These same locations are already subject to a ‘cyclone season’, at least in the northern half of Australia, and all are subject to occasional flooding and bushfires. The infrastructure that services mines – notably railways, roads, and power lines – is also subject to these extremes of nature.