Larry Marshall, CSIRO, Opening Remarks, World Mining Congress 2023

World Mining Congress 2023

Thanks Jillian for that kind introduction.  

I would like to begin by acknowledging the Jagera people and the Turrbal people as the traditional owners of the land we are on today and pay my respects to their elders past and present. Caring for our lands and our people is the most important job we do. 

As Dr Guo said this is the first time Australia has hosted the conference in its 65-year history, and I am very pleased that, after a disrupted couple of years with the pandemic, we are finally all together.  

CSIRO has worked with the mining industry for over a century, and as one of the largest minerals research and development groups in the world, we have a strong track record delivering innovative solutions across the value chain. 

Now, we are applying this innovation to help some of our hardest-to-abate sectors transition towards net zero, and to realise the opportunities of a low carbon economy.  

Mining built the world as we know it today, but without change it won’t sustain the world of tomorrow. 

But we all have the power to create that world of tomorrow.  

I want you to take a moment to imagine a different future.   

A future where we have reinvented how we secure our resources, so that industry and our environment can become partners instead of competitors.  

Where we have the resources and technology needed to support our transition to net zero, while protecting our lands and our people.    

Where we have reimagined our production processes from scratch and redesigned industry so that it is using low emissions technology. 

How will this be possible?  

There will be no single solution of course, but just as we’ve seen medicine shift from open heart surgery to non-invasive keyhole catheters, we could be seeing innovations like non-invasive robotic moles going into the ground to withdraw minerals with little to no disruption to the land. 

Or drones conducting remote geo-tech soil assessments. 

Or interplanetary miners sourcing hydrogen from asteroids.  

However it’s done, it’s not like the mining we do today.  

It’s mining that embraces our local communities and the environment.  

Its mining that takes a commodity mineral sand, and turns it into Titanium ink, that in turn 3D prints a replacement sternum like this, that saved a man’s life in New York.  

It’s mining that accelerates global decarbonisation by unlocking the critical energy minerals the world desperately needs for solar panels, electric vehicles, and batteries.  

An industry that will enable the world reach net zero.  

It’s these images I’d like you to have in your mind as we kick off World Mining Congress 2023. 

It’s where we need to be heading, and it’s how we all need to be thinking.  

And that is why CSIRO is proudly hosting this conference. 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.  

I know some of the problems we face seem impossible, but this is what science is for, to solve the seemingly impossible – its why we are here with you. 

Our missions program assembles broad coalitions of partners to solve complex scientific challenges. Our Towards New Zero mission is building Australia’s national capability to transform our hardest-to-abate industries, like the resources sector, in the transition to net zero.   

We’re helping iron ore producers and steelmakers to get the coal out of steel production, so that steel can head towards net zero.  

Our Hydrogen Industry mission is supporting global decarbonisation by providing an alternative to gas and coal exports, and growing a new source of transport fuel for heavy industry, especially for mining. 

Our developing Renewable Energy Powerhouse mission is seeking to deliver renewable energy solutions from our critical minerals – building and leveraging collaboration across the renewable energy value chain to support the delivery of affordable energy storage solutions. 

The time to be having this discussion is now. 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.   

It’s time to harness the spirit of an industry that is renowned for operating at the cutting edge of innovation, to pioneer new solutions and new technologies. 

It’s time to look to our sun-drenched landscapes and wind-swept plains for what will be powering our cars and heating our homes in 2050 and beyond.  

It’s time to reshape how we work, and build our planet for a better future.  

Make no mistake: it’s a challenging path ahead and all of us will need to play a key role.  

But every challenge hides a new opportunity, and Australia is a land rich with opportunity.  

We have the sun and the smarts to reinvent ourselves.   

We are part of a powerful global network that collaborates and shares ideas. 

just look around you at who is here – From NASA to BHP, from NREL to RIO, from CSIRO to FMG – It’s not every day you get mining organisations from around the world together with investors, researchers, educators, regulators, suppliers, and operators. 

It’s not every day you have a once in a lifetime chance to make a difference.  

This is our time to seize a moment, set an agenda and move forward together. 

At CSIRO, we tackle the greatest challenges in a variety of ways. Through national collaborations like our Missions Program, our Future Science Platforms that have driven an increase in our innovation, and all enabled by the digital and data expertise of our Data61 Business Unit and National AI Centre.   

Similarly, the program over the next three days has been created to enable you all to tackle the biggest issues facing mining today. You will examine the world’s future economic and social dependence on resources and consider key issues including environmental sustainability climate change, digital transformation, disruptive technologies  and the future workforce.  

You will get to hear from 15 plenary speakers and have the chance to join technical site tours and field trips to explore various mine sites. It’s an action-packed few days that I hope will leave you inspired about the future and the opportunities ahead. 

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. 

Thank you.