The main objective of this series of conferences is to assist the global minerals industries in their transition to sustainable development. The first conference, SDIMI 2003, was held in the island of Milos, Greece and attracted 200 international attendees representing industry, governmental organizations, associations, and research and academic institutions. On that occasion, the “Milos Declaration” was adopted, a statement of contribution to a sustainable future through the use of scientific, technical, educational, and research skills and knowledge in minerals extraction and utilization that was endorsed by the leading global professional and scientific organizations and institutes representing the minerals professional.
The second conference in this series, SDIMI 2005, was held in Aachen, Germany, and was again a successful forum in convening the minerals community engaged in sustainable development, with particular emphasis on sustainability indicators, data evaluation and reporting and life-cycle assessment and product stewardship. The meeting concluded that the community must foster the implementation of indicators by setting up an international forum, providing incentives and benefits for industry (in particular SMEs), installing databases to feed indicators, and monitoring and documenting progress made towards sustainable development in the minerals industry for the benefit of all stakeholders.
The venue of the third meeting in the series, SDIMI 2007, was once again Milos, Greece. The focus was on issues of benchmarking, SD value creation, operationalization of SD, creation of knowledge hubs, modeling and fiscal issues and best practices and tools. Conference sessions were organized in three simultaneous tracks:
- Track A – Sustaining Resource Availability: policy, research, and applications
- Track B – Sustainability Indicators: information in support of capacity building
- Track C – Social Aspects of Sustainability: meeting shareholder and stakeholder expectations
The three topical panel discussions of this meeting focused on the same three major themes:
- Panel Discussion I – Ensuring Sustainable Supply
- Panel Discussion II – Integrating Sustainability in Capacity Building
- Panel Discussion III – Stakeholders’ Expectations
The 2007 conference concluded with a plan and a well-defined process, representing a variety of stakeholders, which can provide guidance and direction to the minerals community on the path to sustainable development.
The venue of the fourth meeting in the series, SDIMI 2009, was Brisbane Australia and was held between July 6 and 8, 2009. Themes included: Frameworks and tools for integrating sustainable development considerations into mine and plant design, Innovative methodologies for measuring sustainable development performance at the operational, corporate and industry level, Mining and minerals processing in a carbon-constrained world: reducing the GHG footprint, Sustainable development challenges in emerging mining countries, Community impacts and benefits of mineral resource developments, Stewardship and the management of products and wastes, Cumulative impacts of intensive resource development, Advances in life cycle and sustainability assessment, Industrial and regional synergies, Overcoming the barriers to the uptake of sustainability innovations, Integration of sustainability thinking into professional education.
SDIMI 2011 was held in Aachen Germany. International experts dealt with the worldwide demand for raw materials and the question of how to comply with this demand in a sustainable manner. Securing the supply of mineral resources for future growth has gained significantly in importance worldwide in the past few years. Presentations on the conference also dealt with the questions of rising energy prices and the anticipated scarcities of critical raw materials – for example minerals required in the field of electro mobility and renewable energy sources. Considering the impact of rapidly developing countries such as China and India and their rising demand for raw materials, arising challenges were discussed: “How can a sufficient availability of raw materials be ensured? and “How can the production of mineral raw materials be maintained in a sustainable way – preferably in an environmentally friendly and socially acceptable way – while remaining economical?”.
The organizing committee of the conference, the Institute of Mining Engineering I of RWTH Aachen University, in cooperation with the Virginia Tech University and the Technical University of Crete, welcomed about 300 participants from all over the world – among them representatives of international extractive industry companies, high-ranking representatives of governmental organizations as well as representatives of universities and research institutes. The main subject areas covered approaches of practical implementation of the concept “Sustainable Development” in companies of the extractive industry, mineral resources policies, critical resources, social aspects of the raw materials production as well as sustainability aspects in raw materials supply chains. As a novelty in the SDIMI conference series, at a special session Young Researchers were given the opportunity to engage in dialogue about their latest research results and conclusive opinions in front of a large plenum.
The venue of the sixth meeting in the series, SDIMI 2013, was once again Milos, Greece. The focus was on issues of Best practices and sustainable mining practices, Life cycle assessment, Sustainable land use and raw materials supply issues, Mineral resources policy, Social contributions and environmental performance, Sustainability in Minerals Education, Certification, Evaluation and Auditing, Emerging economies, Nature conservation and climate change, Risk management, Health and safety, Sustainability reporting, Sustainability in oil and gas development, Technological developments, Local communities and good governance, Capacity building & human resources. More than 100 presentations were completed in three parallel sessions over two and a half days.
The seventh series, SDIMI 2015, was held in Vancouver Canada, organized by the Normal B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, University of British Columbia, Canada. Topics included: Best practices & Sustainable mining practices, Technological developments, Sustainable land use & Raw materials supply issues, Life cycle assessment, Social contributions & Environmental performance, Mineral resources policy, Sustainability in oil and gas development, Certification, evaluation & auditing, Nature conservation & Climate change, Emerging economies, Health & Safety, Risk management, Capacity building & Human resources Local communities & Good governance, Sustainability in Minerals Education, Sustainability reporting. The program included two parallel sessions several plenary sessions and three panel discussions.
The eight conference in the series, SDIMI 2017, was held in Beijing, China. Topics included (a) Mineral extraction and sustainability (b) Mine land stewardship and geohazard prevention (c) Safety, health, environment and community (d) Risk management and life cycle assessment (e) Best practices and sustainable mining practices (f) Social responsibility and accountability (g) Sustainable land use and raw materials supply (h) Inspection, certification and auditing (i) Fossil fuels and new energy for sustainability (j) Mineral and energy resources policy (k) Unconventional resources for sustainability (l) Resources, energy and emerging economies (m) Mine communities and good governance (n) Technology, education and capacity building. The conference was well attended the the proceedings were published in an open access volume available here.
The ninth conference in the series, SDIMI 2019, was held in Sydney, Australia from May 27 to May 29, 2019. The theme of the conference was “Embedding Social License: Perspectives and Promises”. The conference topics included (a) Connecting (critical) raw materials with future societal demands (b) Integrating social license into the overall value chain (c) Intersection of social license and its contribution to sustainability and sustainable mining practices (i.e. worldview, policy, ethics etc.) (d) Understanding social license complexities (e) Sustainable mining through Indigenous collaboration (f) Utilizing minerals economics to deliver sustainable outcomes (g) The role of corporate social responsibility in sustainable mining practices (h) The role of technology in enhancing sustainability outcomes (i) Effective conflict resolution techniques and strategies (k) Social License in action; Australian and international case studies.