Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th July 2022 blogs
By David Cavell
Hello and welcome to my first blog on ReSToRE! I’m Davey, a geologist at heart working in Environment and Sustainability. I’m thrilled to be at the summer school: Over 30 countries are represented from almost every continent, with backgrounds ranging from geoscience to soil science to law to sociology. So far, over desks and over dinner, we’ve started to get to know each other and share perspectives. I find myself buzzing to learn with every new conversation.
And there’s plenty of food for thought - We have a great selection of experts on circular economy, artisanal mining and critical metals to guide us, and had two more excellent public lectures on Tuesday.
Nicole Smith from the Colorado School of Mines guided us through social science research on mine closure and repurposing of mine sites in the United States. The talk included some interesting ideas for repurposing of the mine, ranging from making glass out of tailings to shrimp farming to CBD growth (as these products are legal in Colorado). Most interesting though were the differences of perspectives between stakeholders (ranging from communities around mine workers to state governments) of the mine, and how the preference and importance of economic, social and environmental considerations differed between each. Clearly, mine stakeholders are seeing the issue of closure in many different lights; perhaps through the prism of good stakeholder engagement and social science research these can be understood and reconciled.
Frances Wall gave us a view from the extractive industries at the “front” of the circular economy (CE), an area often neglected in CE models. It was great to hear about the volume of research in the UK in this area, through interdisciplinary projects like Met4Tech, and the launch of the Critical Metals Intelligence Centre. Close to my heart was discussion of sustainability reporting and how we might track metals from source to product, Life Cycle Assessment and ultimately have better stewardship of metals we use.
Over the week, the summer school breaks up into smaller workshop groups each tackling a particular thematic issue. I’m lucky enough to be part of the group looking at how a “Just Transition” to a low carbon economy might be achieved. Transitioning to a low carbon economy is crucial to our future (of which mining will form a key component), but this process will lead to large economic and social changes for the developed and developing world, with whole industries winding down, new ones springing up – In short, winners and losers. So how to achieve a just transition for the communities impacted? Well, you’ll just have to stay posted to this blog to find out…