Mining company South32 CEO Graham Kerr today said the mining industry was crucial to power the sustainability revolution, and needed to work with communities to make a positive difference.
At the QUT Business Leaders’ Forum, Mr Kerr said the world was going to need more copper, nickel, zinc and aluminium to fully decarbonise.
“Those are the metals of the future that will allow you to build EVs, solar panels, and wind turbines. They’re the things that are going to make a difference in decarbonising the world,” he said.
However, Mr Kerr said corporations had to build connections with the communities they operated in to ensure they shared in the wealth generation.
“We mine other people’s resources. If they don’t share in the value, we don’t get a licence. If we don’t operate sustainably, we don’t keep our licence,” he said.
Mr Kerr said he loved seeing the difference mining could make in communities, both in the developing and developed world.
“We’re looking at building a lead, silver and zinc mine in Santa Cruz County in Arizona, which has the lowest socio-economic state in the state. We will more than triple the taxes and royalties that they raise in that council, which will all go into schooling and educating people.”
He said it was about balancing the short-term cost with the long-term value of building a community.
“We could probably, with technology, run the Arizona mine with about 300 people, but if we don’t create jobs for people why would they want us there?
“So we’ll use new technology to do some things and protect our people, but creating jobs and developing people is going to be part of who we are as well, otherwise why would we get that licence and why would we keep it?”
Michael Miller, Executive Chairman of Newscorp Australasia, will speak at the next QUT Business Leaders’ Forum on 15 March 2023.