How CSI companies are restoring ecosystems and enhancing biodiversity
Quarrying is the essential first step in the cement production process because limestone, shale or clay must be extracted from below the surface to provide the industry’s raw material. First, companies must obtain a license to operate at any particular site, and therefore usually complete an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This focuses on the area’s ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity, and includes rehabilitation plans during and after extraction.
Quarrying activities often entail significant local environmental impacts as the soil is always removed and the topography altered, or local ecosystems and watersheds are impacted. During or after extraction, opportunities arise to rehabilitate the area and ensure the biodiversity is maintained or even enhanced. Rehabilitation activities depend on the area’s biogeographic conditions, local partners and expertise, and company motivation.
The business case for quarry rehabilitation is clear: companies obtain permits to operate only when they demonstrate their commitment to rehabilitation. CSI companies also understand their responsibility to the local habitats and communities, and the opportunity to maximize the potential positive impacts of quarrying activities. The benefits of quarry rehabilitation outweigh the long-term costs to the cement companies and to the natural environment and local communities.
Click here to view the case studies collected by the CSI.
Guidelines on Quarry Rehabilitation
In recognizing their responsibility for effective quarry rehabilitation, CSI published the Guidelines on Quarry Rehabilitation in Dec 2011 to present a consensus view of its members on the principles of quarry rehabilitation. Supplement with handy tips and solid case studies in testing the recommendations given, the document shares members' experience and skills that could be considerably helpful for other companies involved in similar quarrying or rehabilitation activities.
The document begins with an overview on external context, namely the legislative environment, external stakeholders, natural environment, company and site objectives. Then it moves on to address the different steps in a lifecycle of a rehabilitation plan, beginning with defining the context, setting objectives, planning finances, developing and implementing the actual plan, all the way to monitoring and post-closure management.
To illustrate how the guidance can be tested in actual operation environment, the document provides 30 case studies drawn from a range of quarry types and local habitats from all around the world.
One key element highlight throughout the document is the element of communication and open dialogue with stakeholder plays a vital role from the very early stage of rehabilitation planning. The goal is to achieve a mutually beneficial condition where the needs of stakeholders and operators can be bridged. Following the same principle, CSI initiated extensive dialogue with a wide range of external reviewers in the drafting process. Their views were presented, discussed openly and extensively, the effort being to incorporate as far as possible of constructive comments in the Guidelines. This ‘fair’ process was seen as essential to the delivery of a well-balanced document.