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“Sustainable Development”, defined for the first time in 1987 in “Our Common Future”, a report compiled by the UN Environment and Development Committee, is a term which has recently made a remarkable career in scientific circles – and indeed, among the broad public as well.

Sustainable development was defined in the report as a process, aimed at meeting the develop-ment needs of the present generation – in such a way as to make it possible for future generations to meet theirs. At the same time, due to the multiplicity of factors, which may influence the environ-ment, three main areas on which to focus when designing an effective sustainable development stra-tegy were defined.

 

These are:

  • protection of the environment and rational management of natural resources;
  • economic growth and fair distribution of resultant profits; and
  • social development.

 

Considering the above-mentioned areas from the mining industry's point of view, we can con-fidently define sustainable development as “managing mineral resources using methods that result in mining which is economical, environment-friendly and socially acceptable”.

 

Phrased in this way, the definition provokes several basic questions:

  • does current mineral resource management in Poland – which as a matter of course, vitally in-fluences the future of the entire Polish mining industry – comply with principles of sustainable development?
  • is the common Polish belief of the long-term sufficiency of domestic mineral resources well-grounded, and does it justify abstinence from mining thin deposits?
  • is the mining of thin deposits at all economically viable, in the current realities of the Polish eco-nomy?
  • is it proper to bequeath future generations with nothing else but thin, inferior deposits?

 

Stated in this way, the seemingly simple questions become difficult to answer explicitly. Every-thing depends on the perspective from which one looks at the thin seam-mining phenomenon. Is one merely focused on an analysis of the technical and technological solutions involved in the mi-ning process, does one consider its economics, or does one look at the problem in its entirety, keep-ing in mind efficient utilization of the natural resources and the energetic safety of the country, as the prime objective?

Not concluding at this stage from which perspective the problem of thin seam mining should be looked at, the need to objectively assess the place and role of this category of mineral resources in the total national resource/reserve base, is undoubted.

The International Mining Forum 2007 is predominantly focused on technical and economic as-pects of mining deposits belonging to this category. A particularly large part of the book was de-dicated to describing the huge experience in this regard, of the Ukrainian mining industry, whose existence depends mostly on thin seams. Some issues from the Canadian and Chinese mining Indus-tries were also presented.

The International Mining Forum was held thanks to the support of the Chair of Underground Mining, the Faculty of Mining and Geoengineering of the University of Science and Technology (AGH), the Mineral and Energy Economy Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Science in Krakow, KGHM Polska Miedz S.A., LW Bogdanka S.A., Jastrzebska Coal Company, Katowice Coal Holding, MIDO Ltd, MMDE ZOK Ltd, ELGÓR+HANSEN S.A.

 

The organizers would also like to express their gratitude to all other persons, companies and in-stitutions, who helped bring the Forum into being. We hope that the Forum will contribute to the ex-change of interesting experiences and, as has become tradition, the establishing of new friendships.

 

Jerzy Kicki

Chairman of the Organizing Committee 2007

 

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