“It’s about time you got here!” – Tuesday’s Speeches at the World Mining Congress

World Mining Congress 2023

“It’s about time you got here!”

The World Mining Congress 2023 in Brisbane officially opened with inspiring speakers encouraging delegates to engage fully in the breadth of speakers, presentations and workshops being held this week.

In his opening remarks, Hua Guo, Chair of the Australian Organising Committee for the World Mining Congress 2023welcomed the more than 3,500 delegates to Brisbane. “It’s about time you got here!”

It’s the first time the Congress has been held in Australia.

“I am a proud member of the Australian mining industry – which has supplied the best energy and mineral products, enriched the lives of people worldwide, and is a powerhouse for mining innovation.”

“As the world strives towards a net zero carbon future, mining is no longer just another industry, but a vital industry.”

“Itself in transition, the industry must supply sufficient critical minerals essential to the energy transformation for the world, knowing this must be done in a socially and environmentally sustainable and responsible manner.”

“This Congress will address the key issues associated with this massive (energy) transition, with the active engagement of delegates representing the global mining value chain – mine explorers and operators, researchers, educators, service providers, policy makers and investors.”

“We can be proud of the mining sector”

Marek Cala, WMC Chair of World Mining Congress International Organising Committee praised the work of the Australian committee and encouraged the audience to be proud of the sector and the work it does.
“I’m okay, you’re okay, and mining is ok.”

He says this slogan expresses pride in the mining industry, faith in its potential and a determination in overcoming difficulties.

“This slogan also encourages us to reflect on what we can do better, how we can improve the quality and efficiency of our work, how we can minimise the negative impacts of our activity and how we can build good relationships with our stakeholders.”

“Mining creates jobs and economic growth for millions of people around the world. It contributes to GDP, export, taxes, royalties, infrastructure and community investment.”

“It drives innovation and technology and challenges us to find new ways of exploring, extracting, processing and using our natural resources.”

He says mining will continue to play a vital role in meeting the growing demand for clean energy, electric vehicles, digital devices and other emerging technologies.

“Mining fosters creativity and collaboration. It has a bright future.”

Achieving net zero is only possible if we completely reimagine our future

As the host organisation of the World Mining Congress, Larry Marshall, CEO of CSIRO, said that the CSIRO had worked with the mining industry for over a century, and has one of the largest minerals research and development groups in the world.

“We’ve been solving the greatest challenges for over 100 years, which makes us uniquely positioned to bring you all together to get on the same page and plan a sustainable future for this industry, which we are all so invested in.”

“We have 312 months to get to net zero. Every single one of those months will be crucial. It took 8 years to get to the moon, imagine what may be possible in 26 years.”

“The 4 days you spend in this conference can drive change. Because we must change and adapt – to new technologies, to the impacts of climate change, and to the changing needs and expectations of our communities.”

He said that achieving net zero is only possible if we completely reimagine our future.

“So please lean in. Have an open mind.”

“We are at a critical moment in history, and we have the power to make a difference.”

Queensland plans to be a renewable energy superpower

Premier of Queensland, the Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk, welcomed delegates to Queensland emphasising the unique opportunity for the mining sector in her state.

She said Queensland is a global resources powerhouse with a plan to become a renewable energy superpower providing resources for the clean energy industrial revolution.

“Queensland’s existing resource sector has a pivotal role whether that be bauxite for aluminium or steel-making coal to build electric vehicles, wind turbines and the transmission lines needed for renewable energy.”

In launching the Queensland Critical Minerals strategy, the Premier said, “The first objective of the Queensland Critical Minerals strategy is to move faster and smarter by establishing official mineral zones to improve coordination of approvals and baseline assessments of flora, fauna, water and social impacts to lower barriers to entry.”

She also identified the importance of value adding to the mining undertaken in Queensland. “I want to see minerals processed here in Queensland. I want to see batteries made here in Queensland because that is going to deliver a better return for Queenslanders from resources and secure manufacturing jobs for Queenslanders.”

Demand for critical minerals for clean-energy technologies [will] grow very quickly

The International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Chief Economist, Tim Gould, said that monitoring the mining sector and its impact on energy issues was important to the IEA.

He called for international government collaboration to ensure access to and production of the critical minerals needed for the net zero transition.

Modelling of different minerals and metals production is essential to tracking that demand.

“There are three fundamental challenges to be addressed. One is the potential mismatch between demand and supply. The second is high geographical concentration in production. And the third is related to environmental and social risks from minerals production.”

“As the world moves through energy transition, demand for critical minerals for clean energy technologies grows very quickly.”

“The big question is whether the supply side is really ready to keep up with that rapid rate of demand growth.”

We can eliminate discrimination, harassment, and assault

ICMM members have committed to work together to improve the experience of all workers and eradicate discrimination, harassment, and assault from mining and metals workplaces in a new collaborative initiative.

By the end of 2024 the following actions will be taken:

  • Accelerate individual and collective action to eliminate harmful behaviours from workplaces and communities.
  • Set individual and collective goals, relevant to operating contexts, to eliminate all forms of harassment and discriminatory behaviours.
  • Disclose aggregated performance against these goals in accordance with ICMM’s Social and Economic Reporting Framework.
  • Work together with companies, industry associations, underrepresented groups, communities, investors, and others to advocate for and find solutions to the challenges relating to diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry.

“This collective commitment aims to prioritise and accelerate collaborative efforts to eliminate discrimination, harassment, and assault,” said Rohitesh Dhawan, CEO and President of the ICMM.

“This is so we can build psychologically safe and truly diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces in the mining industry.”

“It is not only our solemn duty to do so, but the only way to attract and retain the talent essential to grow responsible mining at the huge scale that is required. This is why I am calling on the wider industry, alongside our members, to join us in this collective effort to drive the progress needed.”

The national golden goose

In his address, Mike Henry, CEO of BHP said the challenges facing the mining sector were huge. particularly the need for financial investment.

“We need a massive wave of capital investment – perhaps an additional US$100 billion per year in capital investment in the resources sector – if the world is to get on track to meet the Paris aligned 1.5 degree scenario. 

“That is going to require significant multiples of metals and minerals in coming decades compared to the last few – two times as much copper, four times as much nickel, twice as much steel, twice as much potash – and so on for the other critical metals and minerals.”

Mining’s contribution to Australia has been significant as has been the revenue that has flowed back into the economy.

“Mining brings the opportunity for secure jobs, economic development and investment – as well as secure energy solutions and food supply chains that sustain lives and livelihoods.  

“Australia would not be the country it is today, wouldn’t have the living standards Australians enjoy today, without mining.”

He said that in the 2021 financial year, the minerals sector alone contributed almost 10% of Australia’s GDP, and almost 30% of corporate taxes at the federal level.

“Last year, royalties from resources accounted for approximately 40% and over 20% of the non-GST revenue of Western Australia and Queensland respectively.

“It is truly the national golden goose.”

“For the mining industry the opportunity is to continue to create significant benefits for investors, employees, contractors, and suppliers through finding and producing the metals and minerals the world needs.”

“We can also create lasting value for the communities we work in and with and the traditional owners of the lands on which we operate.”

He called for policy certainty and collaboration with government.