The People and Mining network launched on the 27th July 2021 with an extended online seminar attended by over 50 participants. With a focus on exploring the most pressing issues at the intersection of people and mining, the aim was to explore how best to shape the future of People and Mining.
“Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!”
After a brief welcome from some of our team members we opened with keynote talks from Professor Frances Wall (Applied Mineralogy at Camborne School of Mines, UK) and Dr Paul Kamlongera (Adjunct lecturer at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi), which you can catch up on in the video below.
After a well-deserved break we ran an interactive exercise asking participants for ideas and aims about how to develop the network and what to focus on in upcoming seminars, which was mapped out into the word cloud below. Finally, we held a panel discussion with Alex Lemon (Mkango Resources), Amayèle Dia (Pact) and Carlos Petter (UFRGS) explored some of the most pressing issues at the intersection of People and Mining and what the opportunities for collaborative working are.
Bridging professional and disciplinary boundaries
What emerged most powerfully was the scale of the challenges (and the opportunities inherent!) and the diversity of skills, experiences and approaches held by participants. As we develop and grow the network and focus on specific issues it’s going to be a challenge to always speak the same language but the level of commitment to broadening our knowledge and engagement is thrilling.
The topics raised and discussed in the meeting were wide-ranging, from building acceptance and trust in sustainable raw materials production within the EU (developing a social license to operate), to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on miners (and the local political contexts within which mining occurs), to the challenges mining presents to indigenous communities and how these objections can be brought into mainstream debate to address ongoing power imbalances.
Interrogating and questioning buzzwords
There was a strong focus on how mining can bring responsible innovation into the heart of its development but it’s also clear that terms like ‘sustainable’ need interrogating and questioning. Participants suggested we need to focus more on ‘responsible’ mining and recognise that all activity, from exploration through to extraction and reclamation must commit to developing a positive legacy.
The conversation reinforced the need to be able to integrate global and local levels of analysis. Our industrial chains and circulation of products links each of us across the globe. To be ‘responsible’, mining needs to take seriously the challenge of creating circular economies and reducing its environmental footprint, even as it may offer the raw products needed for Net Zero.
Inclusivity at its core
One of the key values we hold for the People and Mining group is that it does not conform to or replicate existing power dynamics, that hierarchy is not a factor in whose voices are heard and engaged, and that we try to recognise our own positions of power and make sure that we seek out and centralize the voices, knowledge and ideas of people in more marginal positions. These are lofty ideals, realising them will require sustained work to build new partnerships. We have much to learn.
We would love to hear your reflections on the opening session and hope to see you at our next seminar!
See you soon,
The People and Mining Core Team