Speaker spotlight: Kim Ferguson
Kim has over 20 years’ experience in resources projects in most states of Australia and internationally, particularly West Africa, ranging from greenfields exploration to active mine expansions to closure planning and implementation.
Q. What message would you like to highlight to the delegates at this upcoming Conference? What do you hope will be the main take away from your keynote presentation?
A. It is the responsibility of the industry to consider ourselves transitional land stewards and to think about the long-term post closure impact of all our decisions and activities. Resources are finite and all mines eventually close. Every activity the industry undertakes can lead to an impact or an opportunity in the future. The industry is judged by the poorest performer, over the entire life of mine, including closure and post-closure, in fact often more so on closure and post-closure as that is the legacy left. Resource companies have the skills and capability to leave sustainable positive legacy, and there are many examples of where the industry has done exactly that. To ensure this is the rule rather than the exception, it is the responsibility of all disciplines within the industry at all levels to better embrace collaboration, diversity and integration to embed sustainable positive outcomes into everything we do.
Q. Throughout your extensive career, what challenges stood out to you with regards to achieving better environmental performance and do these challenges still occur today?
A. Not just better environmental performance; improved closure performance, including progressive closure, workforce transitioning, cultural, environmental and socio-economic aspects. As a broad generalisation, the biggest challenges have been related to the silos that each discipline operates in, the drivers for mining which have historically been largely economic to the detriment of other value drivers and the outdated belief that the life of mine stops the day production stops. While these challenges are gradually being addressed, there is room for improvement. And the industry has never been better positioned to address them.
Q. From your experience, what are the key processes and procedures to utilise innovative ways to enhance sustainable outcomes?
A. I believe the basis for enhancing sustainable outcomes is collaboration, engagement, integration, diversity and divergent thinking. The industry can learn a lot from other industries, from other land management practices, other stakeholders and from other disciplines. Everyone bringing a different perspective, different experience, different opportunities will result in the industry building on existing knowledge to develop innovative ways of working towards common and enhanced sustainable outcomes.
Q. It is an exciting time to be in the resource sector as innovation is moving rapidly, what advice do you have to our young professionals looking to attend the conference?
A. The industry has never been so engaged in being a committed and responsible part of the communities and environments in which we operate. The future of the industry is in innovative solutions for responsible production across the full life cycle of assets and materials. The modern world also requires minerals to realise the more responsible future we envisage. As such there is a growing and urgent space for innovative ideas, collaborative approaches, considerations beyond single disciplines and roles within the industry that have not even been identified yet. There is opportunity for employees to forge the future and create the kind of industry we are all proud to work in, leveraging off the industries global reach and insatiable appetite to continuously improve. My advice would be jump into this opportunity with enthusiasm and optimism and drive the change you want to see!
Q. What new technologies can we expect to see in the coming years? Does automation play a huge part in the future of sustainable mine outcomes?
A. The obvious technologies for me will likely be related to minimising environmental, societal and cultural impact. How do we minimise emissions? Minimise footprint of disturbance? Minimise waste production? Maximise environmental, social, cultural enduring benefit across the full value chain. This will drive innovation into the way we mine to the amount of material we move to the way we process and the way we manage our products and waste materials. There are exciting opportunities to reskill workers towards an automated future or for a future with different ways of mining which will result in a workforce with transferrable skills.
Q. Why do you think it is important for life of mine professionals to continue their professional development?
A. Because the world is constantly changing: societal expectations, investor and customer requirements, regulations and the aspects that differentiate different companies and provide competitive advantage are all evolving. As such, so are our roles within industry. Our best contribution to the industry is when we are current in knowledge and understanding of value chain drivers and external forces, and applying that to our day to day roles, assisting the industry to stay relevant and better yet, continuously improve the path of responsible life of mine in all aspect.