Can mining be safe and sustainable?

Conveners: Richard Herrington and Jon Russill


Governments around the world have pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions for the future, in line with the UN SDGs and other global climate agreements.  But what will this look like and what will it take to get there? 

This session explored some of the changes that will affect our daily lives, such as mass transportation, and the disruptive technologies and increasing raw material demands that are needed to achieve this.  Is there a gap between supply and demand of critical raw materials, and is this likely to grow?


If we are truly committed to a greener and more sustainable future, an upsurge in mining for certain raw materials is likely to be needed to achieve this, at least until a circular economy moves closer to a reality.  It is crucial that this is done in a way that is acceptable, maximising benefits to society as a whole and minimising impacts on the environment.  Furthermore, the potential for mining to alleviate poverty, deliver SDG goals and truly bring sustainable prosperity even after mines have closed must be debated.  Is it possible for mining to co-exist alongside society, other industries and biodiversity to the benefit of all?  How do we decide which is most important, and what are the tools that can be used to bring about profound change to the mining industry so that it is accepted as part of our future?