Industry Partner - Mitsubishi Development

“It's our role to get out there and talk to students, mining companies, communities and governments, about enriching society through sustainable and responsible use of the world's resources.”

Associate Professor David Laurence
Former Director, Australian Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices 

[Article from ‘Giving to the University of New South Wales, 2012’]

There is a striking analogy used by Associate Professor David Laurence when outlining the challenges ahead for the mining industry.

“It's like when you're playing a piano and you press the pedal after hitting a key: the note is sustained for the longest time. It doesn't last forever but it does lengthen and prolong the effect. That is what we need to do in mining.”

It's an appropriate description from a man who appears to have struck exactly the right chord as Founding Director, and Chair, of the Australian Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices (ACSMP) at the UNSW School of Mining Engineering.

The newly established centre is anticipated to become a leading independent authority in sustainable mining practices throughout Australia, within the international arena and particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. It provides innovative education resources, for both tertiary and professional development sectors, while fostering an active research division.

“It's our role to get out there and talk to students, mining companies, communities and governments, about enriching society through sustainable and responsible use of the world's resources,” David says.

More than one billion children live in poverty and half of the world's population still lives on less than $2.50 a day. These people have neither access to electricity nor the minerals that allow a high standard of living. Responsible, sustainable development of the world's mineral resources can reduce poverty yet the challenges facing mining companies in extracting these resources are increasing around the world.

What began as an ad hoc research group in the emerging field of sustainable mining at UNSW has now grown into a think-tank with real impact in finding practical solutions to these global mining concerns. The centre facilitates staff and student exchanges, collaborates with national and international researchers across a number of different disciplines and shares their good news stories across the world.

Expansion has been possible because of support from Mitsubishi Development, a subsidiary of Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation, which made a commitment of $1.1million to be used over five years for the Chair in Sustainable Mining Practices. It is the largest corporate contribution yet received by the School of Mining Engineering and represents the continuation of a good working relationship built over several years.

“It's the right thing to support and it fits well within our scope of focus areas: education, safety and sustainable mining,” says Robert Campese, General Manager of External Affairs at Mitsubishi Development. “This independent centre of excellence provides an important link to the major global players in minerals education and research. We hope it will be one of the leading organisations in the mining industry that assists in best practice to keep the industry sustainable for the long haul whether that's through governance, participation, research or continuing education.”

The sustainability values that guide Mitsubishi Development are very much aligned with the centre's mission to help society satisfy its demand for energy and minerals in a responsible manner. David reiterates that the Centre will encourage an understanding that opportunities exist through responsible practices to alleviate poverty, particularly in the developing world where mining will be increasingly important in the future.

“Sustainable mining is not an oxymoron,” David says. “If miners embrace the key dimensions of safety, environment, community, economics and resource efficiency, the benefits to society in poverty alleviation and a reduced footprint will become a reality.”