Embracing Donut Economics

Donut (or doughnut) economics is a modern method of addressing sustainable development, which combines the concept of planetary boundaries and the concept of social boundaries.

The model was developed by Kate Raworth as a way to assess the performance of an economy and ensuring the needs of people are met without overshooting our planets ecological ceiling. 

An adapted model is shown to the right, and is essentially a circle with a hole in the middle – the donut! The central hole represents an area where people lack access to life’s essentials (food, water, housing etc.), while the outer crust represents the ceiling that life depends on and must not be overshot.

An economy, and business, is considered prosperous when all the social foundations are met without overshooting any element of the ecological ceiling. The space between these two zones is described by Raworth as being “the safe and just space for humanity”.

Social Foundation

Aeonian Target Zone

Ecological Ceiling

This addresses the twelve basic human needs, as agreed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

  • access to clean water
  • food security
  • ensuring and promoting healthy lives
  • obtaining quality education
  • flourishing economics to provide stable income and work
  • promote peaceful and just societies and communities
  • have a political voice and respect free speech
  • promote social equity through fair policies
  • prosperous workforces through gender equity
  • addressing housing to provide safety and shelter
  • build social capital and networks for fully functioning groups
  • Affordable access to energy

The donut economics model suggests that businesses should strive to be in the “goldilocks zone”; the area where foundational social goals are exceeded but the ecological ceiling is not breached.

The concepts of social foundation and ecological ceilings are not new to exploration and mining, although we see more visible efforts in these aspects in larger, well-funding mining operations. 

We can address social foundation by working with communities to provide work opportunities, education and training initiatives, promote diversity in the workforce. Through these simple efforts, we can achieve social equity and allow all groups to have a voice

Exploration does have an impact on the biosphere, but this can be managed so as to not push the limits of the land. Aeonian is working to measure our greenhouse gas emissions to reduce climate change and ocean acidification. We can also take steps to prevent chemical pollution and take steps to stop unnecessary land conversion

For humanity to continue to prosper, we must not overshoot nine planetary boundaries as defined by the Stockholm Resilience Center:

  • exert controls over anthropogenic climate change
  • reducing carbon dioxide to prevent ocean acidification
  • control heavy metal or organic chemical pollution
  • reduce nitrogen / phosphorous loading in the biosphere
  • minimize freshwater withdrawals
  • slow land conversion from natural ecosystems to human or industrial sites
  • make efforts to decrease biodiversity loss, and where possible rewild and reclaim.
  • control aerosol release that can result in air pollution, leading to increased cloud formation or health impacts
  • taking care not to use chemicals that lead to ozone layer depletion

Accessing Unique Datasets

Working with the non-profit, Below BC, Aeonian is helping to conserve Legacy Collections of geological and technical documents, many of which are not in the public domain.

The documents have been acquired from geologists who have retired or sadly passed away. Aeonian and Below BC are working to digitize this information and make it available online. One of the benefits of this process has been the discovery of several “new” mineral showings, those lost to history or vital information on existing systems. We are currently finding that around 5% of the reports contain previously undocumented discoveries. Although this number sounds small, we are jointly working on a repository of over 10,000 documents that is growing each year. 

Working Towards Decolonization

 

Aeonian is going to work towards decolonization at the very earliest stages in the exploration process. Through dialogue we can learn from original keepers of the land and learn to thrive together. 

What s decolonization? In it’s simplest form, it is a restorative process that moves towards deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches. Decolonization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and weeding out settler biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being.

The Rights of Indigenous people was adopted by the United Nations in 2007. It says:

Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

It lists several important rights in the process of decolonization, including:

  • the right to autonomy and self-government, including financing for these autonomous functions
  • freedom from forced removal of children
  • protection of archaeological and historical sites, and repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains
  • the right to provide education in their own language
  • state-owned media should reflect Indigenous cultural diversity
  • legal recognition of traditional lands, territories and resources.

The provincial government passed the legislation in November 2019 to implement the UN Declaration, which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission confirms as the framework for reconciliation.

To move forwards, we must understand the past, including the enactment of laws and events from early settlers that continue to effect modern First Nations. Other events, such as the ability to vote or the abolishment of residential schools are in living memory and so continue to create an erosion of trust. 

Below is a timeline of major events in British Columbian and Canadian history that have a bearing on colonial law, and the influence on reconciliation. 

 

  • Be respectful

  • Engage early

  • Be open and transparent

  • Act with honour

  • Listen

  • Be willing to adapt

1849 - 1850
1851
1856 March 1st
1857 December 29th
1858
1858 August 2nd
1859
1859 September 7th
1860 October 15th
1864
1865 April 11th
1867
1869 March 10th
1871 July 20th
1884
1891 April 20th
1892 April 23rd
1912
1951
1960
1984

Spearheading Green Ideas in Exploration

Social commitments in exploration and mining are increasingly important, and we are finding ourselves under increasing public scrutiny for our roles in environmental stewardship.

Aeonian is spearheading the tracking of carbon emissions created during the course of an exploration program, from greenfield prospecting to advanced mining operations. This helps us better understand our environmental impact, find ways to reduce our footprint and develop suitable and affordable methods to offset emissions. These offsets can also be built into a Social Licensing plan that helps contribute to communities. 

Through our studies, we can often reveal inefficiencies that can spur a change in company culture and methodology, resulting not only to reduce carbon impact, but also save  money in the long term.

What are we monitoring?

We look at three specific areas when recording our carbon impact on a project:

  • Operational: This is everything to do with remote work in the field, from travel to and from site, equipment usage and even third-party logistical support.
  • Human: This is the everyday aspects of working on a project. We record online hours in the office to gauge electricity use, as well as energy metrics for the processing of waste products.
  • Environmental: This final category records our impact on the land by disturbance of vegetation or productive soil layers, or reclamation work which has a positive offset effect. 
How Accurate is it?

Measuring carbon emissions is not an exact science at this stage, with certain aspects being much more amenable to monitoring that others.

For example, specific fuel types produce carbon dioxide and methane at very steady rates. One liter of pure gasoline contains 0.63 kilograms of carbon, yet due to the chemistry of combustion it can produce 2.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide. 

Some aspects are harder to measure, for example the amount of energy required to assay one sample at the lab, and so for these estimates are used. 

What are the outcomes?

Through monitoring of our emissions we can see areas that can be improved in the long term. Exploration is challenging due to its remote nature, so the use of some greener technology is not always ideal. Carbon has a price, and our calculations can estimate that dollar amount which can then be used in environmental programs as part of our social license efforts. 

Carbon pricing will be levied at around $50 per ton by 2022. We are using this higher number as a standard for our current calculations. For example, a recent four week prospecting program (road accessible) produced 2.671 tons of carbon dioxide, which would cost around $133.55 in Federal taxes. 

Tree planting charities are another good way of offsetting carbon emissions. They calculate that 10 trees are required for every ton of carbon, at a cost of around $6 per tree. 

Carbon Monitoring Areas
The Chemistry of Gasoline