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METS Ignited Student Volunteer at IMARC

METS Ignited has welcomed Michael Spurway final year mining engineering graduate from the University of Queensland to assist the team and provide a student perspective to the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne from Monday 29 October to Thursday 1 November.

The busy week is providing Michael with access to workshops, keynote presentations, high level executives from METS and mining operations, international delegations, and most importantly insights into the how Australia's METS companies are collaborating with industry to deliver cutting edge innovation.

Read the IMARC highlights from a future industry leader below.

Tuesday 30 October

Keynote address: Jean Sebastian Jacques, Chief Executive Rio Tinto

Shifting the industry's focus from financial austerity to sustainable growth - what challenges do we face?

'Elevate the debate to how we can collectively pioneer the industry into a very different twenty-first century' - Jean-Sebastien Jacques opened this year's IMARC prompting delegates for a response to a challenging future where growth is harder to come by and tougher to execute. In this dynamic environment, the vision must be different as we shift the focus from financial austerity towards sustainable growth. Jean-Sebastien proposed that we move our efforts towards the latter, three things must be addressed:

  1. We must reinvent ourselves. Whilst the mining industry may have not changed at the same pace as other industries such as aerospace, we are quickly following suit. The future world is one where, as a global unit, we're constantly increasing the amount of materials we recycle (e.g. Apple and the 100% recycle of metals in its iPhones), new research and development is in action to create to replace those we currently mine, accelerated global change is looming from global plans such China's 'One-Belt, One-Road' Policy. These catalysts for accelerated global change illustrate the critical need for us to find new ways to mine. The digital and innovation shift will be an increasingly important mechanism for this transformation.
  2. Redefine the way we partner. Communities are asking for a greater share of the benefits from our resources. In a capital-intensive industry, there is the suggesting of a new business model - one where a greater share of the benefits will be accepted for greater project risk. This will foster shared value of mining projects, preserving investor returns and generating value for communities.
  3. Changing the 'BBQ conversation'. Mining is a necessary par of our futures. Now more than ever it is essential we change the conversation and the way the industry is portrayed. This will be increasingly important, particularly as the industry seeks to attract future talent.

Reflecting on Jean-Sebastien's comments as a mining engineering student, it prompts a holistic view of a changing industry and the challenges we face. More importantly, surfaces an opinion of the necessary changes for this evolving industry. As students, how can we ensure we are prepared for these changes? It seem that a change to the traditional streams of thinking and approach to the industry will be of increasing importance, and greater systems thinking with a community-inclusive approach will be required for success.

Keynote address: Tom Butler, Chief Executive Officer, ICMM

Mining's current and future contributions to sustainable development

Chief Executive of the ICMM, Tom Butler, presented a three-way call to action in the pursuit for future contributions to sustainable development from the mining industry in his keynote address on the opening morning of IMARC. Lead. Communicate. Collaborate. Those who are successful will reap rewards: better access to markets and finances, and ultimately value for shareholders. The drivers of sustainable development in this changing environment will be led by globalisation and technology advance, and increasingly measured by the expectations of society and ESG performance.

The industry’s current contributions amount significantly, with over one million people employed globally and over US $5 billion in royalties and taxes in the last five years. Importantly, it is the way in which this contribution evolves and is understood, that will help to drive sustainable development. The days are gone of the traditional concept of social contract; instead the deepening complexities of this commitment have progressed to include the principles of social purpose.

The future role of the industry in creating and pioneering change, is founded on a shift towards a more active role in stakeholder collaboration. We are already beginning to see this with the realignment of company values, and the partnership with communities in preparation for future changes such as automation. Additionally, demand will dictate that end users will need to be shown responsible production. This social purpose will ultimately affect shareholders. Going forward, it is this role in the decarbonisation of the planet through the supply of materials required for infrastructure, and the alleviation of poverty among those living in developing mining-dependent economies that are encompassed in this important role of the industry to play.

As a student I recognise the ever-increasing importance of social contract, and the role it will play in my future career. Perception has proven to be both powerful and damaging. As we progress, it will be a key aspect in determining which way industry responds to the future challenges that unfold. In this way, executed social purpose which is well-articulated can shape the future contributions of the industry. I expect as a current student that my future roles will increasingly encompass this facet of the industry.

Wednesday 31 October

Keynote address: Senator the Hon. Matt Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia

Senator for Queensland and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia the Hon Matt Canavan opened the second day of IMARC by reaffirming the Australian Government’s commitment to the resources sector. In his remarks he discussed the ‘ Resources 2030 Taskforce’ – a plan to ensure Australia’s competitiveness on the global resource stage. He stressed the wide range of opportunities for the sector but cautioned us to be realistic about a rapidly changing future. Five major themes were made of the Government’s commitments:

  1. Maintain the attractiveness of Australia as a destination for investment through consistent policy with bipartisan engagement
  2. Facilitate the opening of new basins and fields. There has not been a Tier 1 discovery in Australia for over a decade, and the Government is supporting exploration through technology such as the aeromagnetic seismic testing;
  3. Continue to promote a culture of best practice. Increased focus on environmental performance, leveraged through both domestic and international partnerships
  4. Ensure Australians have higher paying and secure jobs, helping to develop communities via investment from the sector; and
  5. Ensuring communities benefit from the development. The METS sector has an important role in the translation of this, we must protect and grow.

Reflecting as a student, for those of us looking to enter industry it is clear that the industry sentiment has a very different tone to when many of us first began our studies. Going forward, there is a sustained effort to facilitate the sustainable development of the industry and to propagate opportunities within the resources and METS sectors. There is a well-supported strategy from Government for these sectors and the role they play, which both current and future students will be able capitalize on. It’s important to communicate the latter - as highlighted by diminishing enrolments but increased demand from industry. Communicating this commitment and strategy for the future of our national resources sector and Australa’s economy, and reflecting this in industry will be an important aspect of retaining and attracting students to the sector.

Keynote speaker: Ric Gros, CEO, METS Ignited

The final keynote speaker of Wednesday morning’s plenary - Stakeholder Engagement, Collaboration and Managing Change was Ric Gros, CEO of METS Ignited. Addressing the role of collaboration and commercialisation, and what more could be done to promote innovation, his message was centred around the need for the sector to work more closely, coordinating efforts to ensure commercialisation is accelerated and innovation absorbed at a faster rate. He used the occasion to announce RISE – a national accelerator program in partnership with Industry Growth Centre for the energy and resources sector NERA, the Queensland and Western Australian Governments and KPMG.

The METS sector added $92 billion in gross value add in 2017/18, doubling in size since 2005. As the resources industry increases its investment going forward, this demand will only expand. Investment in the sector is currently at higher levels than pre-boom.

In my experience as a student, there is not enough known of the METS sector, particularly in the form of education of the wide breadth of opportunities that exist within it. The opportunities that will be present as a result of this growth and leveraging the future demand for skills, capabilities and infrastructure should be advertised to students as an attractive destination for future careers. Furthermore, the uptake and incorporation of technology and innovation within the industry makes for an interesting prospect as we head into the evolving industry of the future.