On November 28th, over one hundred and thirty members in the mining community attended the first-ever ‘Dragon Den’ style event, the Future of Mining Challenge, where the University of British Columbia (UBC) students shared their ideas on the challenges and changes the mining industry will face in 2040. This event was a collaboration between the Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining (BRIMM), Ernst & Young LLP (EY Canada), and the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering (NBK Mining).
The students came from a variety of backgrounds – engineering, mining, geology, commerce, economics, and arts, and utilized their diverse education to tackle real mining problems from a cross-disciplinary perspective. The students were narrowed down to three teams and had four weeks to prepare, under the guidance of mining industry mentors from Anglo American Corp, BGC Engineering Inc., Pan American Silver Corp, SSR Mining Inc., and Teck Resources Ltd. The teams then presented their ideas and answered questions from the ‘Dragons’, who were BRIMM Founder, Peter Bradshaw, BRIMM Director, Prof. Greg Dipple and BGC Engineering Global Strategy & Business Development Lead, Karina Rogers.
Team 1 discussed connecting corporate social responsibility to core operations with a focus on using blockchain to increase transparency between the mining industry and the community. They believed that going forward, a license to operate and accountability should be seen as a necessary cost to create long-term value for organizations.
Pictured: Team 1 – Daniel Zhao, Ashish Khatrichetri, Nicole Huynhand Claire Lepsoe. Team 1 presented on the ideas of connecting corporate social responsibility to core operations.
Team 2 presented on the need to attract the next generation of talent in order to utilize emerging technology, thus enabling the mining industry to share innovation, improve operations and create shared value. To furthers achieve this, they believe that mining companies should focus on enhancing the perception of the industry with the public through early education, improving interactions with university students, and focusing on flagship technologies.
Pictured Team 2 –Anurdha Ramachandran, Joseph Cashore, Mathew Sauska, Nohan Lalani, and Yukinori Kinoshita. Team 2 focused on what the mining industry needs to do to attract the next generation of talent.
Team 3 shared their idea of creating sustainable mines with focuses making waste and legacy mines usable and profitable, in addition to changing the perception of mining in the public eye. Underground farms and data centres were suggested as two ways to repurpose legacy mine sites to create a circular mining economy the public could support.
Pictured – Group 3: Carla Colina, Jose Obach, Joud Almoud, Maxime Rotsaert, Reece Koch, and Sally Innis, with Dragons Greg Dipple, Peter Bradshaw and Karina Rogers from BGC, and NBK organizer John Steen. Team 3 focused on creating a sustainable mine for a sustainable future.
While the focus of each presentation varied, some key concepts were proven to be consistent through all the presentations, which they showcased collaboration; technology to build transparency and trust (Blockchain); and change in leadership and culture.
The future of mining is full of potential, as the students have shown through thoughtful presentations. “I am very proud of what the UBC students have achieved in this project. They bring fresh insights from different fields of study and can imagine the future in a way that more experienced mining executives find difficult, says BRIMM Ambassador and EY Distinguished Scholar in Global Mining Futures, Professor John Steen. “This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when the industry and university sectors work together to take on big issues facing society and the economy.”
With collaboration, accountability, and a change in mining culture at the forefront of their visions for the mine of 2040, there is a lot of change to be made. These students and the next generations to come, will create and implement innovative ideas and to make this vision for the future of mining a reality. All in all, the event was immensely successful. BRIMM, NBK Mining and EY Canada hope to create another event in the near future.