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WMI summit explores the changing mining landscape

- Wits University

The Summit is another step forward in developing mining tech and skills to drive a low-carbon future and just energy transition.

Hosted by the Wits Mining Institute (WMI) on 28 and 29 September 2023, the 21st Century Mining Technology, Skills and Exhibition focussed on four key areas:

  • Integrated critical raw materials for the just energy transition
  • Circular mining and minerals
  • Digital technologies and cybersecurity
  • Waterless mining

According to WMI Director Professor Glen Nwaila the summit is a unique platform bringing together industry leaders, experienced academics, students and stakeholders from the mining sector – to exchange knowledge, share insights and explore the latest advancements in mining to envision future trajectories.

The first focus was to promote research and innovation in the exploration, extraction and processing of critical raw materials that are essential for a sustainable and just energy transition. “This has become imperative to achieve the global target of net zero emissions by 2050,” said Nwaila.

The next focus emphasised the importance of circular economy principles in the mining industry.

“We explored secondary sources of metals, such as stockpiles and metallurgical tailings, and discussed how the mining industry can transition to a service-oriented model,” he explained. “This contrasts with the traditional ownership model, and instead aims to achieve a metal for a subscription model that is relevant to modern investors, consumers and employees become more socially conscious.”

As advancements in digital technologies transform the mining landscape, the summit addressed the challenges and opportunities of implementing digital technologies such as material traceability or fingerprinting of commodities from mining operation to the market. The solutions will be applied while ensuring robust cybersecurity measures, responsible use of artificial intelligence and effective governance.

“Water scarcity is another pressing concern for many mining regions, so the summit highlighted innovative technologies and collaborative strategies that enable waterless mining processes,” he said. “Progress on this front will reduce the industry's environmental impact and help ensure sustainable resource management for water security in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.”

As the host organisation, the WMI advances research, innovation and collaboration in the mining industry, with a strong focus on cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices.

In the media

Also read the article, Wits Mining Institute lays out challenges in local mining industry, way forward, published by Mining Weekly, and watch their interview with Professor Glen Nwaila: