“For a Sustainable Future” was the motto of the international 16th MiningForum and the exhibition hosted by DMT GROUP, Essen/Germany, in Berlin on 19th and 20th May 2022 (Figure 1). The event offered a 360° perspective on all relevant areas of the natural resources sector and was once again held under the patronage of the Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).
More than 400 decision-makers and experts as well as more than 50 exhibitors came together to exchange information on the latest developments in the natural resources sector, to identify best practices in engineering and consulting and to open up new perspectives for the industry – all under the guiding principle of sustainability. The participants included renowned national and international companies, universities, institutions and associations such as ABB, BAUER, Bundesgesellschaft für Endlagerung (BGE), Herrenknecht, Montanuniversität Leoben, Deutsches Geoforschungszentrum (GFZ), Rheinisch-Westfaelische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen, Rio Tinto, Siemens, Thyssen Schachtbau, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UN IDO) and Voith. The event was accompanied by an exhibition with 55 participants.
Under the spotlight of sustainability, the MiningForum covered the entire value chain in the natural resources sector: from exploration, extraction and processing to closures and the renaturation of former mining areas. In addition, the focus was on the consistent development and exploitation of secondary deposits – as well as related technical innovations and best available technologies.
The forum dealt with central topics for the industry in the area of tension between tradition, sustainability and future viability. This applied specifically to the development of transnational sustainability standards, the creation of a legislative framework and options in the field of sustainable finance. Here, in particular, the commodity sector can be one of the decisive drivers for more sustainability.
“As an established hub of the natural resources sector, MiningForum combines experience with knowledge and foresight in a world that is characterised more than ever by responsibility towards people and nature,” explains Jens-Peter Lux, Managing Director of DMT, who opened the conference – together with Michael Kellner, Parliamentary State Secretary at BMWK, and Astrid Petersen, Member of the Board of DMT parent company TÜV NORD AG.
From the beginning, it became clear that a climate-neutral economy and the achievement of the goals of the European Green Deal are impossible without the use of natural resources. Raw materials are urgently needed for the energy and mobility transition, digitalisation and decarbonisation. The development of sustainable energy resources such as geothermal energy also cannot work without wide-area exploration.
This meant that above all, the forum was about suitable concepts and solutions to transform the sector sustainably. The sector needs answers to the pressing questions of our time – with a clear vision for the future and a strategy based on emerging technologies and existing expertise.
“Against the backdrop of political events, the future will be more about in- rather than outsourcing, because Germany is rich in deposits that will gain in importance again. Sustainability means mining and processing with new and further developed methods, e. g., for residue-free potash mining. Only then can we count on acceptance by wider society,” says Michael Seifert, Chairman of the Management Board of SCHACHTBAU NORDHAUSEN GmbH – a company of the BAUER Group.
The 65 speakers from business, science and politics ensured lively debates – as did the representatives of the partner countries Chile and Australia, who reported on the practices and experiences of their home regions. Overall, the international perspective played a central role, as Prof. Rolf Steltemeier, Director and Head of the Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO) Germany, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, says: “Our speciality is mining in countries outside Europe. We try to support these countries locally – especially through technology transfer. But we also need better controls on the ground. I see German industry, particularly with its supply chains as exemplary here.”
Over two days, the conference spanned a comprehensive range of complex, commodity-relevant topics and interrelationships, delving into areas such as digitalisation and automation as well as questions of ethics. Special attention was paid to the question of how stability and security can be generated for international supply chains – a topic that has gained in importance in the wake of current geopolitical events, as well as the pandemic.
The varied programme of lectures was also accompanied by an extensive trade exhibition where companies and organisations presented practice-relevant research results and best practices. An excursion to the “Berlin Underworlds” and the traditional miners’ evening rounded off the event.
“This year’s international Mining-Forum has made visible the indispensable contribution of the extractive sector to a sustainable world. We are facing up to our responsibility to anchor sustainability as a guiding principle in our business models in every respect. By accepting our task, we can set standards that develop exemplary character beyond our industry and country,” says Maik Tiedemann, CEO of DMT.
When it comes to meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow, MiningForum leads the way, it has set distinct standards and made it clear that the industry as a whole is well positioned to drive sustainability along the entire value chain in the natural resources sector. (DMT/Si.)