Kicking tires: It’s time to talk about mining’s overlooked ESG problem – by Frik Els ( – July 17, 2023)

The mining industry does not talk enough about tires. Or, more specifically, ELT — end of life tires. A 2020 study in Australia came up with some surprising numbers on the country’s off-the-road tire (OTR) industry. In 2019, the Australian mining industry generated a staggering 68,100 tonnes of used tires.

Of that number 93% or 63,300 tonnes were disposed of onsite – either piled up or buried. A further 3% were sent to landfill (2,000t) while just 1% (700t) were recycled, with the remainder stockpiled or used in civil engineering.

Tires don’t degrade, so anything that is not recycled becomes part of the landscape indefinitely. There are likely millions of ELT buried or piled high at mining locations around the world – and there are only so many haul road safety berms, feeding troughs, playground surfaces and lawn mulch where rubber can find other end uses.

Needless to say, for an industry struggling to burnish its ESG credentials, tires are a big black mark on its environmental reputation and an easy target for green activists. Last month MINING.COM toured a facility in the heart of Chile’s copper region and home to many of the world’s largest open cut mines, in a showcase for how this intractable problem can be tackled.

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