Takeaways from the SGA Biennial Meeting

Rosie Blannin, Olivia Mejías, and Loren Nichols in front of  Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA) banner
Left to right: Rosie Blannin, Olivia Mejías, and Loren Nichols

MIWATCH group members Rosie Blannin, Loren Nicholls, and Olivia Mejías attended the 17th Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA) Biennial Meeting in Zürich, Switzerland, from August 28th to September 1st, 2023.

With an overarching theme 'Resources in a Changing World', the conference covered a variety of fascinating topics, including a wide range of hydrothermal ore deposits, supergene ore-forming processes, critical minerals and geo-inspired technologies for a carbon-neutral future. It also delved into advances in analytical techniques, new sensing instruments, and machine learning applied to data mining.

Throughout the event, we were treated to a series of interesting and informative plenary talks by Sofia Kalantzakos, Simon Michaux, Kerry Turnock, and Simon Jowitt. To conclude the gathering, Anne JB Thompson hosted a thought-provoking roundtable discussion on community relationships, addressing the question: Is there a role for geologists?

Several common themes emerged throughout these comprehensive plenary talks:

  • Challenges of the Green Energy Transition: Completely replacing fossil fuels is a complex undertaking. This challenge stems from the substantial quantity of metals required to manufacture the initial generation of renewable technology units, casting doubt on the feasibility of achieving this goal.
  • Geoscience's Ubiquitous Role: Geoscience emerges as a pivotal discipline, underpinning and guiding decisions across the entire value chain.
  • Mining Waste as a Resource: A noteworthy insight is the potential of mine waste materials as valuable sources of critical elements.
  • Sustainable Value: Achieving greater sustainability by addressing existing environmental issues through the reuse of problematic mining waste.
  • Enhancing Mineral Deposit Understanding: To support both discovery and improved recovery of co-, and by-products (e.g., Te, Re, In).
  • Promoting Careers in the Mining Industry: To combat declining interest in mining and geoscience careers, it is encouraged to adopt a 'change from within' approach.
  • Geoscience's Community Challenge: The evolving role of geoscience within communities presents a formidable challenge. However, the focus is on proactive engagement with local communities, fostering collaborations, refining communication skills among geoscientists, and ultimately, striving to create a positive impact on our communities.
Collage of speakers at the 17th Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA) Biennial Meeting in Zürich, Switzerland
Upper left: Simon Michaux. Upper right: Kerry Turnock.
Lower left: Simon Jowitt.
Lower right: Round table with Anne JB Thompson, Halleluya Ekandijo, Jon Keisu-Lundh, Sophie Decree, and Paola Vera.

As we delved into technical discussions, we could discern the profound influence of the micro- and nano-scale analysis (chemical and 3D) on all geological disciplines. The meticulous treatment of vast datasets has been instrumental in the economic geology field, spanning from magma fertility to the economic potential of critical metals. However, there is a growing need for guidance on reliable data treatment and interpretation, for instance, following hierarchical data structures and using machine learning approaches.

images of different examples of analytical techniques and best-practise data treatment Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA)
Examples of analytical techniques and best-practise data treatment.

Undoubtedly, the SGA conference provided an invaluable source of knowledge and networking opportunities. Key takeaways include the evolving role of geoscience in a changing world with a complex future regarding the phase-out of fossil fuels, as well as the exploration of mine waste's potential as a valuable resource for critical minerals. We are also thrilled to announce that Olivia Mejías received the Best Student’s Oral Presentation award, with her talk titled 'Indium Exploration in Sulphidic Mine Waste and Acid Mine Drainage Environments'.

Students awarded at the 17th Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA)
The Best Student Poster and Oral Presentation awards for the selected students and committee evaluators.

The MIWATCH team are grateful for the opportunity to attend then SGA conference to present their work and network with the wider economic geology community and look forward to using what they have learnt to improve the understanding of critical metals in mine wastes. See you at the next 18th SGA Biennial Meeting in Colorado, U.S. state, 2025!

Last updated:
6 September 2023