The University of Arizona Superfund Research Program, Dean Carter Binational Center, and Center for Sustainable Mining (CESM) partnered with the Pontifica Universidad Católica de Peru (PUCP) of Lima, Peru to organize and co-host a conference on environmentally and socially compatible mining. The conference, Developing a Pan American Hub for Environmentally and Socially Compatible Mining, was held in Lima from March 7-9, and was the second in a series of three planned UA SRP conferences centered around the theme of socially and environmentally compatible mining. Compatible mining, aspects of which include corporate responsibility, environmental sustainability, collaboration amongst diverse stakeholders, and holistic regional development, was defined in the first conference of the series, held in Mexico in September, 2014.
This year’s conference was attended by 108 industry professionals representing various stakeholders including mining companies, universities, law firms, and even the US Embassy. The conference featured 24 guest speakers from Chile, Canada, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, and the US. Topics ranged from big mining, artisanal mining, legacy sites, health issues risk assessments, and tailings dam breaks to new technologies, remediation techniques, public relations, and mining legislation. According to Dr. Jim Field, SRP Investigator and Director of the Dean Carter Binational Center, memorable conference highlights included discussions on the impacts of artisanal and informal mining; the absence of efforts to clean-up abandoned mining sites in Peru and other countries; and bioenvironmental geometallurgy, in which the entire life cycle of a mining site is designed based on the biogeochemistry of site-specific minerals.
To conclude the conference, the attendees broke out into focus groups to discuss how a Pan American Hub could be developed to promote socially and environmentally compatible mining throughout the Americas. The groups worked to develop a mission statement with a future vision for how “compatible mining” might look like in the future. In reference to the outcome of the working groups and the overall success of the conference, Dr. Field said, “The conference connected key players in the Pan American region to take the first step in forming a regional hub to resolve environmental and health issues related to mining.”