Speaker:  Dr Gavin Mudd, Associate Professor Environmental Engineering, RMIT University

Abstract:  There is increasing debate about the ‘circular economy’ and the role that mining could play in such a scenario, especially linked to the world’s efforts such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In theory, a circular economy means everything is recycled – leaving no role for mining, surely? The reality is considerably more complex – we only recycle a small range of metals (and only lead to near circularity), many parts of the world do not have the metal stocks, recycling technology or policies in place to support a circular economy, plus many metals of growing importance cannot be mined by themselves but are crucial by-products at smelters or refineries (aka ‘technology metals’). This is within the context of (1) seismic shifts in global technologies such as the rise of renewable energy, energy storage batteries and electric vehicles – all of which need substantial amounts of metals; and (2) growing expectations of sustainable or responsible supply chains for all metals (e.g. no catastrophic tailings dam failures, no child labour, decreasing carbon intensity, etc). All this means we need to understand more than ever the full spectrum of mining – from resources available to support the ongoing rise of new technologies, protocols to assess environmental management and more broadly, responsible or sustainable mining, through technological design to achieve efficient resource use and broader initiatives for the circular economy. As always, when it comes to mining and its current status and future prospects, it’s still, and will always be about the physical and social environment.

Bio:  Dr Gavin Mudd has been at the forefront of research on the environmental impacts, management and sustainability of mining for over 20 years. As a self-confessed data junkie, his research has built unique and extensive data sets to examine this history of mining (especially ore grades, mine wastes, remaining resources), linking these to the growing environmental risks from modern mining and the needs for sustainable development (especially critical minerals and renewable energy). As a prolific publisher, Gavin’s scholarly work is renowned around the world – a truly unique and independent perspective and voice on the sustainability of modern mining.

About JKMRC Friday Seminars 2020

Welcome to the 2020 Series of the JKMRC Friday Seminars.  The list of presentations will aim to cover a range of topics related to the minerals sector from decision making in exploration, new mineral processing technologies, social licence to operate and mine closure.

Due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, all JKMRC Friday Seminars will be presented as webinars only.

If you wish to watch past webinars you can access the videos on the SMI website https://smi.uq.edu.au/webinars

Previous seminars have been uploaded to YouTube via the following link: https://www.youtube.com/user/smiuq