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Mining: the ultimate influencer? 

Something that Monica Ospina, Founder and CEO of socio-economic development firm O Trade, told me in a recent interview has stuck with me…

“People can’t live without the products of mining, yet the industry is relatively unaware of the importance of its role in being the first part of many, many supply chains,” she said. “It sets the standard for everything that follows."

It’s true. I would argue that mining is, or has, the potential to be the ultimate influencer, whether for better or for worse. But let’s keep the outlook positive…

In his plenary speech at the CIM convention last year, Mark Cutifani, the now outgoing CEO of Anglo American, pointed out that 45% of the world’s economic activity is driven by the mining sector. If we’re examining the ability to influence on a macroscale, there really is no other group of people or companies better positioned to partner with governments, NGOs and the like to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals or to convene stakeholders from across the value chain.

Even at the micro level the potential to foster change is enormous. As Dr Stacy Hope, MD of Women in Mining UK, notes in her recent chat with Rob Tyson, host of the Dig Deep podcast (see the reading list below for the link), “in many cases, mining defines the communities in which it takes place, and this makes it a potent force for social change”.

I’m not sure whether most mining executives and boards are fully aware of the weight of this responsibility yet, although it’s becoming clearer everyday through the actions of investors who are certainly catching on.

Of course, there are always early movers and last month heralded the retirement of a mining exec who really has set the standard for influencing positive social and economic change during his tenure – the aforementioned, Mark Cutifani.

When I started The Intelligent Miner, I made a habit of asking the people I interviewed – those who I considered visionaries and change makers – who they admired and felt was doing a good job. I received many different answers but, without fail, Cutifani’s name always came up.

There’s a nice article in the reading list below by the FT’s Neil Hume examining Cutifani’s achievements during his time at the helm, and I’d add to those his ability to invoke change, both in and outside of the company. 

He is a great role model for the next generation of mining leaders, and I’m excited to see that legacy of positive change making continued.


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Reading list
Eight of the most interesting articles I've read on mining's ability to influence
BHP: Pathways to decarbonisation: episode 5, the energy transition dilemma
There will be no energy transition without a very large increase in the production of critical minerals. Yet the production of minerals can itself be GHG emission-intensive. Dr Huw McKay ponders how investors should engage
FT: End of an era at Anglo American as Mark Cutifani steps down
Nice article by natural resources editor, Neil Hume, examining the, rather large boots, new Anglo CEO, Duncan Wanblad, has to fill
FLSmidth: Are mine tailings a potential gold mine to cement producers?
Tailings pose a safety concern and a financial burden to miners. But to cement and concrete producers they might represent untapped potential. This is a great example of how mining OEMs can create value for customers in multiple industries through their solutions and expertise, and boost circularity in supply chains 
GeoHug: How cognitive biases are crippling the mining industry
The mining industry is strewn with failed projects, with many more that are chronically underperforming. Guy Desharnais explains the cognitive science behind poor decision making and how to avoid it with webinar host, Jessica Keast
The Economist: The new superpowers
On the Money Talks podcast, Henry Tricks and Matthieu Favas discuss how the energy transition will shift the power balance from oil and gas producing countries to those rich in mineral resources
Dig Deep: How true inclusivity is benefitting the mining industry
As WIM UK MD, Dr Stacy Hope, points out to host Rob Tyson, in many cases, mining defines the communities in which it takes place, which makes it a potent force for social change. This is a good listen 
The Intelligent Miner: Making over mining stakeholder engagement
I had a good chat last year with the Development Partner Institute's Wendy Tyrrell about the mining industry's ability to muster and empower voices across the mining-metals value chain
University of Arizona: Partnering for success in mining
One to watch. Dave Travis, VP mine planning at Freeport-McMoRan, and Brad Ross of UA School of Mining and Mineral Resources, discuss how industry and educational institutions can work together to build a better future for mining 
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