Our 15th Mining Seminar - back in Dundee!

On 5th and 6th April we welcomed friends and colleagues to our traditional Mining Seminar, now in its XVth edition. This year, we co-organised the seminar jointly with Luleå University of Technology and Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR). Elizabeth Bastida shared leadership in the design of the academic programme with Professor Magnus Ericsson and Sven Renner (BGR). The seminar brought together researchers and practitioners - from the public and private sector, international organisations and civil society - to discus emerging questions and findings from research, practice and new and ongoing initiatives relevant to the mining sector. We are grateful for funding received from BGR and RMG Consulting Independent Advisors.

Professor Peter Cameron kicked off the seminar with a welcome address in which he highlighted CEPMLP’s commitment to research and education in the sector. Magnus Ericsson chaired the opening session of the seminar, which aimed at reviewing the state of the mining industry and reflecting on the challenges of resource management in the post-super cycle through presentations by David Humphreys, Jane Korinek (OECD), Olof Löf (United Nations University Wider project Extractives for Development), Olle Ostensson and Caroline Digby.

The afternoon session consisted of a Roundtable Discussion chaired by Sven Renner (BGR) and revolved around a discussion on the role and impact of the State Mining Agreements that are used to fill regulatory and institutional gaps, on sustainable development, and on whether the focus of development cooperation should be on strengthening legal and institutional regimes (rather than on those contracts). The session started with a presentation by Evelyn Dietsche and was then opened for discussion to a distinguished panel that counted with Paulo de Sa, Jane Korinek, Ken Haddow, Enrique Ortega, Al Gourley (World Initiative of Mining Lawyers – WIOML), Amir Shafaie (Natural Resources Governance Institute – NRGI) and Peter Cameron. The day finished with a lively discussion prompted by interviews recorded by the RAW Talks platform and convened by Nicolas Di Boscio and Åsa Borssén.

The first session of the second day was chaired by Åsa Borssén (BGR) who provided an overview of the Mining Investment and Governance Review (MinGov) Project and presented the speakers. Al Gourley (WIOML) started with an overview of what are considered as attractive approaches to mining legislation from an investment point of view. Linda Wårrell from Luleå University discussed emerging findings from the EU Minatura Project, which aims at developing a concept and methodology for the definition and subsequent protection of “mineral deposits of public importance” to ensure their “best use” in the future. Eva Liedholm-Johnson (Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) Stockholm) in turn presented the findings of a comparative study of mining laws that highlighted the prominence of environmental regulation, access to information, consultation and participation in recent reforms, while Amir Shafaie (NRGI) also shared preliminary findings of a comparative study about transparency in licensing and contracting processes in mining and hydrocarbons laws.

The final session was chaired by Ana Elizabeth Bastida, who started by presenting some findings emerging from a paper recently written with Luis Bustos Niño (Universidad Externado de Colombia). She focused on the interpretation of key aspects of the constitutional and legal regime for mining by the Constitutional Court of Colombia, that point at the institutional gaps arising from the fragmentation of of approaches to the design of legal and institutional regimes applicable to the sector. Professor Hanri Mostert in turn presented ‘Waste & Wealth – New Views on the Byproducts of Mining’ a remarkable collaborative and interdisciplinary project hosted by University of Cape Town. Professor Tracy Lynn-Humby examined the High Court decision of South African in the class action for silicosis brought by mine workers against gold companies and shared insights on lessons learnt. Professor Jonathan Fulcher (University of Queensland) and Mary Galstyan (American University of Armenia) presented a research project that looks into the processes of policy development (for environmental regulation); the role of civil society, and the impact of processes in terms of policy outcomes. Andrea Shaw (Transparency International Australia) shared the design of a new programme (the Mining for Sustainable Development Programme) that is doing comparative research on the processes for awarding contracts and licenses in a wide range of jurisdictions, to gain understanding on transparency and accountability in decision-making processes at such stage. Louie van Schalkwyk (University of Cape Town) presented her innovative project on improving accessibility of information to mining stakeholders. Last but not least, our colleague Gokce Mete presented the Extractives Industries Hub platform.

The seminar provided the opportunity to learn from a wealth of perspectives on this, very dynamic field of study and practice; a platform for extremely rich and textured discussion; and was all in all a hugely productive and enjoyable meeting. We look forward to further collaboration and participation from our Alumni and colleagues in the future! A final and comprehensive report of the seminar will be available soon.