Sustainable mining is NOT about the sustainability of mining itself, a specific mine or a resource. Mining per se is not sustainable. That explanation came from Becky Morris of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association during a presentation to the recent annual convention of the Arizona Rock Products Association (ARPA).
Sustainable mining is about addressing contributions of mining to meet societal needs. She described it as more of a "life cycle approach" to mining.
She was followed by Jamie Gaboriau with Aggregate Industries in Colorado. AI has adopted a sustainable mining approach that includes a comprehensive report on all their activities to ensure that the entire operation is transparent, including energy usage, spills, production information and so on. One result is that they are finding that things that used to be considered waste can be turned into profits. For example, reclaimed mined lands are converted to wetlands that fetch $60,000 an acre.