"Fast 5" interview with Prof. Ismet Canbulat
Professor Ismet Canbulat is a mining engineer with over 30 years of experience in research, consultancy, management, on-site and academia. In this edition of "Fast Five", he discusses how to approach key challenges facing the critical minerals mining industry.
Can you tell the readers a little bit about your professional background and current role at UNSW?
I work at UNSW Sydney as Professor, Head of School and Chair of Rock Mechanics at the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering, UNSW Sydney. I have over 30 years of experience in mining research, consultancy, management, on-site and academia. I have worked or provided consultancy over 60 mines, from deep underground metalliferous to shallow surface mines in several commodities. My research interests and expertise lie in rock mechanics theory and application, ground control, ground support system design, slope design, numerical modelling, and other mining engineering areas, including mine design, layout selection and geotechnical impact assessment, risk management and risk-based design and evaluation.
You are a member of the Critical Minerals 2023 conference committee. Who should be attending this conference and why?
The list of professionals and stakeholders involved in the critical minerals industry is long. It includes mineral exploration companies, mining companies, government representatives, industry associations, research institutions and academia, technology companies, investors and financiers, supply chain stakeholders, international organisations and peak bodies, consultants and analysts, legal and regulatory experts, community representatives, students and young professionals.
Is there anything else that people considering attending this conference should know?
This conference aims to provide a platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and collaboration among the above diverse stakeholders to address challenges and opportunities related to critical minerals exploration, production, and utilisation of sustainable and responsible practices.
What is the key challenge facing the critical minerals mining industry? How can we solve it?
The critical minerals industry faces many challenges, including ensuring a secure and sustainable supply of these essential minerals to meet the increasing global demand. Critical minerals are crucial in various industries, such as high-tech electronics, renewable energy, electric vehicles, and advanced manufacturing.
Several factors contribute to the complexity of addressing this challenge, including geopolitical dependence, decarbonisation of mining and processing operations, relatively complex supply chain and vulnerability, technological challenges, investment, policy and regulations.
Solving those challenges will take some time. We must take a multi-faceted approach involving collaborations between governments, industry players, universities, communities, and international organisations.
Australia has a target of Net Zero Emissions by 2050. Do you think this is achievable, and what key changes need to occur across the mining value chain?
I firmly believe that Australia can achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050. However, critical minerals are only a part of it. We should leave politics aside and work together to increase the share of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency in our daily lives, utilise carbon capture and storage, sustainable bioenergy, hydrogen, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, surface and subsurface energy storage, circular economy, innovation and research. We will need effective policies, international cooperation, public engagement, and private sector involvement to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, net-zero carbon future. In my opinion, even nuclear energy should be considered, as done by Finland.
Prof. Ismet Canbulat is currently Professor and Kenneth Finlay Chair of Rock Mechanics at the School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering, UNSW Sydney. His principle research interests and expertise lie in rock mechanics theory and application, ground control and rock mass classification, design of ground support systems, numerical modelling in addition to other areas in mining engineering including mine design, layout selection and geotechnical impact assessment, risk management and advanced risk based design and evaluation, ground stability aspects of mine closure and subsidence assessment.
To register for Critical Minerals 2023, click here.