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A. Hodge

Dr Anthony Hodge: new imperatives for more sustainable mining. Image by Edvard Glücksman.

Why Sustainable Mining is not an oxymoron

Dr Anthony Hodge, President of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), visited the Penryn Campus on Friday 30 January. 

As head of the ICMM, he is the global face of responsible mining and a major point of liaison between the industry and broader society. The London-based organisation represents the world's leading mining and metals, helping them advance their commitment to sustainable development.

Addressing a packed audience, Dr Hodge spoke of the growing economic importance of responsible development in the mining industry, and explained how major companies have had to rapidly adjust to changes in social values. "In the mid-1990s, the mining industry was seen as a dinosaur, as people's values changed but the industry maintained the same outlook. The ICMM is in the business of closing that gap."

Dr Hodge also discussed the ICMM's recently released report, which emphasises the relatively higher importance of mining to the national economy of developing countries compared with, for example, the United States, where industry is diversified. This work shows just how crucial mining is to the survival of many countries around the world, something that must not be overlooked by policymakers.

Hodge also met with Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) and Camborne School of Mines (CSM) representatives over lunch, including responsible mining researchers and Edvard Glücksman. Dr Glücksman expressed his delight at hosting such a high-profile visitor:

“Dr Hodge is a leading voice for a unique organisation, working hard to mend the mining industry’s rather dismal reputation when it comes to interacting with local communities and the natural environment. From an ESI perspective, he offered us fascinating insights into successful interdisciplinary mitigation strategies in an industry keen to rebuild a tarnished reputation.”

Hodge concluded by offering three lessons for the future. In order to survive in an increasingly competitive world, mining companies must focus on establishing relationships characterised by integrity. In addition, having rules and legislation is no longer enough:  "The goalposts are moving too quickly; we have to use and empower engineers and colleagues to go beyond the current rules, looking into the future." Finally, Hodge stressed the importance of seeking insights at the periphery. "The creative energy lies in local communities, not at universities. It is vital we ask them for guidance."

Dr Hodge's presentation is available to download as a PDF; you can also now watch a video of it.

Date: 2 February 2015