Reflecting on the World Mining Congress 2023: Opportunities for the mining and resources sectors

Gerard Daniels recently sponsored the 26th World Mining Congress held in Brisbane. Here Michael McAnearney, Gerard Daniels Director Executive Search and Board Consulting, shares his observations on mining sector challenges and celebrates areas where progress has been made.


At a glance:

As a Gold Sponsor, Gerard Daniels hosted the Executive Business Lounge in the main pavilion of the WMC, which proved a meeting space for networking throughout the four-day program. Consultants of Gerard Daniels Executive Search and Board Consulting enjoyed the company of global industry leaders, innovators and representatives from across the international mining and resources sectors.

The 26th World Mining Congress (WMC) was held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre from June 26-29, with over 3,500 participants attending. The Congress happens once every three years and this was the very first time it has been held in Australia since its inception in 1958. The focus in 2023 was on Resourcing Tomorrow: Creating Value for Society.

“WMC 2023 was an outstanding opportunity for the international mining community to consider and discuss the pressing issues and challenges it faces. It was also a forum to recognise the progress and advancements the sector is making in cultural reform, ESG and its initiatives in decarbonisation, green technology and exploration. These developments will help meet critical mineral demand to 2050,” says Michael McAnearney, Gerard Daniels Director Executive Search and Board Consulting. “The unity within the industry, and its desire to collaborate with one another, the community and government, is indicative of an industry showing great self-awareness and determination to create value for society.”

Delivering on the energy transition

Meeting the demand for critical metals and minerals is one of the most significant issues shaping the global mining sector today. Many presentations highlighted approaches to energy transition.

“Over the next 30 years demand will continue for earth elements, graphite, lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese, copper, and more,” says Michael. “Powering green technologies and emissions protocols requires great quantities of these critical minerals and metals. At current production levels, and even with existing or near-term projects coming online, the industry will fall well short of the metals demand to satisfy climate change targets.”

“As confronting as the demand forecasts look, this event demonstrated the mining industry’s commitment to playing a major role in contributing to a greener future,” says Michael. “The program also acknowledged the value of international collaboration between private and public sectors, to fast-track approvals, improve production capability, enable innovation, and to attract and mobilise the workforce needed to deliver on this demand.”

Attracting talent

According to Michael, the mining sector offers attractive career opportunities for people around the world. With demand for critical minerals exceeding supply, the industry has never been more focused on its appeal to the broader labour market, including school and university students and to key industry executive leaders. The retention and wellbeing of its employees as well as community responsibility were themes evident throughout the Congress.

“There will always be pressure on the industry because of carbon emissions associated with its production. As a society our future is largely dependent on mining to enable the transition to a lower carbon environment,” he says. “The mining sector’s investment in critical minerals production and its strong commitment to ESG, has the potential to provide fulfilling careers for men and women and to promote its attractiveness to the labour market worldwide.

Growing ESG remit

Michael also notes growing discussion and continued focus around safe and inclusive working environments, and the elimination of any form of discrimination, harassment, or assault.

“In this regard the powerful presentation by Rohitesh Dhawan, Chief Executive of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry was compelling,” says Michael. At the Congress Rohitesh announced its new collaborative commitment, with all 25 ICCM members pledging to work together on this most important initiative.

Technological advancement

“Innovation and technology is a high priority and major focus across the industry. The extent of innovation in geophysics, exploration and the full range of production operations is groundbreaking,” says Michael. “It is evident that technology transformation will play a pivotal role in the planned evolution of mining, towards a safer, more efficient and sustainable future.”

Looking ahead

Michael believes the mining industry is committed to its responsibilities to support decarbonisation and to enable the green energy transition. This will in turn positively support the communities with which the mining industry engages, as the sector continues to strive for a safe and equitable work environment.

“There was optimism for the future and a commitment to do what is needed to enable the mining sector to make the most effective contribution to 2050 targets.” Michael says. “Building on the success of WMC 2023, we look forward to progress when we meet again at the World Mining Congress in Lima, Peru, in 2026.”

Did you attend WMC 2023? What were the highlights for you? Did you stop by to say hello? To re-connect with our WMC 2023 delegation or to discuss your executive talent needs, reach out to your local Gerard Daniels team.

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