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Globalisation and sustainability in the long-term future of mining and exploration

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Conferences, Exploration, Future, Management, Mineral Policy, Mining, PhD, Publications, Recommended, Research, Strategy


Earlier in the year I presented a paper at the AusIMM International Mining Geology Conference looking at the role of globalisation and sustianable development in the long term future of mining and exploration. In recent years, political opinion across the world has swayed back from globalisation towards protectionism and localism, whilst a focus on sustainable development seems to have switched back to one of profits and strict ‘economic’ growth. This paper explores the history, present and potential future of these trends, within the context of the mining industry, and makes some suggestions as to approaching the uncertainty that now faces the mining industry.

The paper is based on the final scenarios workshop run as part of my PhD research. It is entitled “Charles Dickens on the (potentially) changing role of globalisation and sustainability in the long-term future of mining and exploration”.

A copy of the conference presentation is available below, along with the abstract, whilst the full paper can be found on Researchgate.

Globalisation & sustainability in mining – Sykes et al – Sep 2017 – Centre for Exploration Targeting from John P. Sykes

“The election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum herald a shift towards a tighter definition of economic value, at the expense of the broader value concept of sustainable development; as well as a rise of protectionism, reversing a long-term trend of globalisation. However, the situation is complex, especially over the longer term in which mine project development and exploration operates. The minerals sector should proceed with caution. A greater focus on the local impacts of mining may be strategically beneficial, not only to mitigate against a potential protectionist future, but also because sustainable development has become more ‘localist’ via the concept of ‘social licence to operate’, whilst globalisation also seems to provoke increased ‘localist’ sentiments (known as ‘glocalism’). Localist strategies, therefore, seem a good hedge against multiple political futures. By contrast, moving away from sustainable development appears strategically riskier. Not only are ‘unsustainable’ activities, such as pollution and civil rights infringements harder to reverse, but a movement towards a more sustainable global economy may already be predetermined, even if the journey there may seem oblique. It appears that the increased economic development that is coveted globally is intrinsically linked to a rise in environmental and social consciousness.”