Editorial: Mining’s identity crisis
On Oct. 13, Canadian Mining Journal held its first branded event – our Reimagine Mining Symposium.
The live, online event was itself a reimagining of a pre-pandemic event that was organized by our sister publication, The Northern Miner. Like the Progressive Mine Forum before it, the Reimagine Mining Symposium was about the ongoing transformation of mining – in terms of technology, talent, and even purpose.
Our aim was to connect our audience with industry leaders on the forefront of big changes taking place in the industry – electrification, decarbonization, and automation among them.
We were gratified that more than 800 people registered for the event, and nearly 550 logged in to join us on the day of the symposium. We would like to extend a deep thank you to all of the delegates, speakers and sponsors who made the event a success.
There was certainly new technology and solutions presented, touching on battery electric vehicles (Sandvik), drone technology and mapping software (Emesent and Exyn Technologies), and power management solutions (Eaton), as well as a panel discussion on how the mining industry can achieve its net zero carbon ambitions.
But one of the running themes of the day centred on not the how of mining but the why.
Of course, we all know that mining is essential – so essential that it’s almost invisible to society and taken for granted.
But our first keynote speaker of the day, George Hemingway, a managing partner and head of the innovation practice at Stratalis, highlighted a way to counter that sentiment. Simply put, the industry needs to find a purpose beyond shareholder returns in order to build trust with society.
Trust is not something that mining enjoys – however it’s something that its social licence to operate depends on.
Building trust is not a straightforward exercise and depends on people who work in mining connecting with a deeper purpose, Hemingway said.
Tellingly, this connection with purpose is something he sees in mining professionals who are working to prevent tailings dam failures. These individuals, he says have “a passion, a knowledge that what they do matters.”
For the record, mining’s not the only business that is struggling with finding purpose (BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has been advocating for a purpose and profits approach to business for several years).
But it does seem to be an idea that is resonating in the industry. Echoes of this theme were evident in other featured presentations during the event, including SRK’s ‘What if mining was cool’ thought leadership panel exploring the disconnect between the industry’s view of itself and the way the public at large sees it; and an interview with NORCAT CEO Don Duval on the link between investing in technology and being able to attract and retain workers.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the event in our December issue, visit our website for full videos, and turn to page 12 to hear what our other keynote speaker, Tony Makuch, had to say.