Conference synopsis, 11th-15th May, Sarah and Rose (organisers)

Firstly, a huge thank you from Sarah and Rose to everyone who took part in the conference, and everyone who has got involved since! It was success greater we imagined, culminating in 65 presentations by 71 presenters, over 500 registrations on the website and 100’s more views on YouTube after the “live sessions” from people all over the globe:

Whilst Covid-19 continues create a great deal of uncertainty, it has also brought with it an opportunity to shape how life will look once we have overcome this challenge. With this in mind, we ran the conference with the aim of hearing ideas, opinions, anecdotes and concerns from those working across industry, academia, finance, insurance, policy and risk management. Hosting a conference during this time, when connecting with each other is more meaningful than ever, actually enabled such a diverse group to meet, when perhaps they otherwise wouldn’t. This allowed us to cover the concept of ‘responsibility’ far more holistically – a necessity in a greener future.

Throughout the week we heard where our raw materials come from, how we can search for and later mine them in the most responsible way. This can include using a range of metallurgical techniques, mining of by-products and getting more out of the rock we mine. However, a geo’s role is not just scientific. From the very first steps a geologist takes ‘on the ground’, social responsibility should be at the very forefront of their mind as this can define the future of a project. We had some incredibly informative talks on ASM, which enlightened many present as to the importance of this sector, and how even junior mining companies should not dismiss traditional mining communities. The role of larger companies to work responsibly alongside artisinal miners, and the role of facilitating bodies was also highlighted.

How we measure responsibility across the mining sector at present comes down to initiatives and frameworks, and as such there was an abundance of talks covering many of the examples. We heard examples of how responsibility is considered in the oil and gas industry and the construction industry, showing that the mining industry should be open to learning from the successes (and failures) from other industries. One potential route this could go down in the future is resource-reserve estimation.

With this said, how can investors ensure they act responsibly without ‘green-washing’? Is mining battery metals from a questionable source better than responsibly-sourced coal? Multiple talks touched upon ways that investors are starting to answer these questions and techniques they are starting to use to make these decisions. Realistically, this is all driven by those using the products, and therefore customers are also key to guiding how best to assess responsibility?

Overall, public perception of the industry is poor, but this is often due to ‘one bad egg’ tarnishing opinions when the rest of the industry is improving. It is here that branding and marketing specialists, along with proper risk management can really come to the fore. Social acceptance is essential in mining, but is often influence by environmental factors, hence more cross-discipline work is necessary.

Whilst the overall aim of leveraging existing initiatives, techniques and policy to create a technical framework that removes the disconnect between operations and investment is still very much in progress, the conference will hopefully act as a springboard for many, as well as providing evidence for those wishing to move forward. This is just the beginning!

Final panel session with roundup of lessons learnt from the conference:

ndividual LinkedIn blog posts which summarise each of the sessions can be found here:

  • Day 1 (Monday 11th) afternoon blog
  • Day 2 (Tuesday 12th) morning blog
  • Day 2 (Tuesday 12th) afternoon blog
  • Day 3 (Wednesday 13th) morning blog
  • Day 3 (Wednesday 13th) afternoon blog
  • Day 4 (Thursday 14th) morning blog
  • Day 5 (Friday 15th) morning blog
  • Overall blog

and the Day 4 (Thursday 14th) afternoon blog here: