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Mining as part of the landscape 

Greetings from sunny Salt Lake City! I’ve been back on the road this week for the first time in two years and it was such a joy to connect with business contacts both old and new at the MINEXCHANGE 2022 event run by the Society for Mining Metallurgy & Exploration. 

Although attendance was reportedly down on pre-COVID numbers, the exhibition floor seemed busy and buzzing with energy. The tagline for the event this year was ‘Social License: Mining for the Future’ which ties in nicely with The Intelligent Miner’s March theme of ‘mining as part of a landscape’. The way in which mines relate to and manage their impacts on the environment are key factors in maintaining a social license to operate and it’s often directly linked to public sentiment surrounding the industry. 

In the MINEXCHANGE keynote on Monday 28th February, Ambassador Todd Chapman discussed how the mining industry is still missing the mark on securing popular support. He talked about how governments and communities are demanding more of miners and the complexities in securing and maintaining a social license. Going forward, demands for greater transparency around environmental issues and more direct benefits for local communities will mean that miners need to put more emphasis on cultivating conditions that are conducive to local buy in, and in adopting more novel mining methods and technologies.

Another brilliant presentation came from Victoria Gosteva, Decarbonisation Programme Manager at Newmont. Gosteva talked the audience through the key pillars and strategies the company is applying to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Downloads of the company’s sustainability report tripled in 2021 which should give you a good idea how deeply stakeholders care about this issue.

Laurie Meyer, Chief Projects Officer at Ocean Minerals also gave an interesting update on the Moana-1 deep sea mining project. Ocean Minerals has just been awarded a five-year license to explore the extraction of polymetallic nodules off of the Cook Islands. The area is thought to contain around 23% of all cobalt globally and could provide a rich source of metals for battery production. Meyer was very clear that environmental and social governance would take centre stage rather than extraction technologies as the company scopes out its next steps towards production. 

These were just a few from the myriad of presentations on offer and we’ll be continuing the conversation on The Intelligent Miner during March with articles on waste management, biodiversity and sustainable mine design to name just a few.

Let me know if you’re up to anything interesting and, if I didn’t see you in Salt Lake, I hope to catch up with you in person soon!


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Reading list
Eight interesting articles on mining and the environment
Communications earth & environment: The mining industry as a net beneficiary of a global tax on carbon emissions
Intelligent Miner alumni, Benjamin Cox and Sally Innis, explain why the mining industry should be actively pushing for carbon taxation  
Context: How oil sands companies work together to reclaim land
A nice example of how oil sands companies are pulling together to regenerate the landscape and even create a local seed bank
IISD: How to advance sustainable mining
Dr Suzi Malan discusses lessons learnt from 50 years of UN sustainable development policy
E&MJ: Newmont Implements Global Industry Standard for Tailings Management
Steve Fiscor interviews Kimberly Morrison, Director for Tailings Management at Newmont, on the company's experience in developing procedures to manage its tailings storage facilities
ICMM: The mine closure challenges for government and industry 
ICMM's closure lead, Dawn Brock, and IGF's Rob Stevens team up to talk about what good mine closure looks like
The Conservation: It’s not necessary to trash the environment to extract metals needed for renewable energy
Great piece by the UBC faculty explaining some of the steps the industry is taking towards more sustainable mining practices
Sustainable Minerals Institute: First Nations voice and visibility in mine site transitions and closure
Key takeaways from the recent Indigenous Exchange Forum hosted my SMI that brought together 40 First Nations representatives and affiliated researchers from Australia, Canada and Aotearoa (NZ) who have major mines on their lands
Sheila Khama's Extractives podcast: fossil fuels and climate change 
One to listen to. A highly enjoyable audio interview with strategist Peter Bryant
Last month on The Intelligent Miner
We explored collaborative innovation
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