Technological change in the minerals industry is driven by the need to improve performance and efficiency against a 'triple bottom line' that considers, economic, social, and environmental criteria. Technological innovation is essential to meet sustainability goals and improve efficiency and has the potential to improve the public acceptability of mining projects. However, the adoption or transfer of new technologies may also result in considerable contestation. The mining industry depends not only on the availability of resources but also on the public acceptability of the technologies and methods employed to extract them. Managing risk is important because ill-fitting technology can lead to considerable harm to the public, individual industries, specific mining processes and companies, mine employees as well as the environment. Social or environmental harm may lead to tangible and intangible costs to industry including reputational loss, costly retro-fitting and even the closure of an operation due to a loss of social license. This discussion paper outlines the possibilities and rationale for incorporating technology assessment into technology development within the CSIRO Minerals Down Under National Research Flagship. This report emphasises the need for technologists to consider, appreciate, participate and own the process of technology assessment. The technology assessment process should start in the research and design phase when there is still room for adjustments to be made to technologies without considerable loss of investment (Ravan et al., 2009). By assisting technologists to consider during the design process the social and environmental impacts, risks and opportunities, to community, industry and the environment, the success of a technology project can be enhanced - for all stakeholders.

Publisher: CSIRO Minerals Down Under National Research Flagship

Region: Australia

Type: Report


Franks D, Cohen T, McLellan B, Brereton D. 2010. Technology Futures Discussion Paper: Technology Assessment and the CSIRO Minerals Down Under National Research Flagship. Prepared for CSIRO Minerals Down Under Flagship, Minerals Futures Cluster Collaboration, by the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland. May. Brisbane. 42 pp

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Technology futures discussion paper

Technology futures discussion paper