September 2, 2016

35th International Geological Congress: Day #3

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

Slide from a talk on sustainability in mining.

Slide from a talk on sustainability in mining.

Today I’m continuing my blogging about attending the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC) in my home city of Cape Town, South Africa, this week. You can find my first two posts here and here. The congress finished today, but I still need to write up my blog posts about days 3, 4, and 5. I’ll write about Day #3 today and then will write about the last two days over the weekend or early next week.

On Day #3 (Wednesday) of the congress I attended talks on a wide variety of topics. I spent the early morning listening to talks about diamonds and kimberlites, then I spent the late morning attending talks about sustainability in the mining industry, and finally I spent the afternoon attending talks on gold geology.

One of the great things about a large geological conference such as IGC is that you can attend a wide range of talks. At the conference this week I made a point to attend a few talks on topics about which I knew very little. Geology is such an interdisciplinary field that I never know what sort of geological research could be relevant to my own fields of study. It’s great to cross-pollinate ideas across different geological disciplines. Also, I really enjoy learning about new (to me) areas of geology… I find pretty much all geology interesting!

On Wednesday I think that I enjoyed the talks on sustainability in the mining industry the most… although of course I found the talks on diamonds, kimberlites, and gold fascinating, too!

I consider myself to be an environmentalist and a humanist, and I’ve been working in the mining industry for more than four years now. Mining is essential, now and in the future, to provide raw materials required by the rapidly growing population of the Earth. However, mining of course has environmental and social impacts and needs to be carried out in a sustainable manner. As an employee of a mining company, I believe that I have an obligation to strive to make mining more sustainable. The talks on sustainability and the mining industry were extremely informative and useful for me. I hope to learn more about this field of expertise in the future.

Slide from a different talk on sustainability and mining.

Slide from a different talk on sustainability and mining.

Slide from a third talk on sustainability and mining.

Slide from a third talk on sustainability and mining — this talk was on green mining in Finland.

On the sustainability note, I was pleased to see that there was a donation box for offsetting the carbon footprints of the conference attendees:

Donation box for offsetting travel carbon footprints.

Donation box for offsetting travel carbon footprints.

Travel can have a large carbon footprint, especially if you fly a long distance. For many of the readers of this blog, as a 2013 New York Times article elegantly states, “your biggest carbon sin may be air travel”. I’m not sure that this little donation box substantially offset the travel carbon footprints of the thousands of geologists attending the congress, but it’s a great start — I hope to see more boxes like this in the future, and I hope that people donate to them. At the very least, the prominent placement of this box in the exhibition hall hopefully made people stop and think, even if only for a few moments, about the carbon footprints of their travel.

In addition to attending all of the talks, on Wednesday I also spent about an hour touring a fantastic exhibit called Messengers from the Mantle: Diamonds and Craton Roots. I’ll write up a separate post just on the exhibit, but for now here are two preview pictures:

Entrance sign for the "Messengers from the Mantle" exhibit.

Entrance sign for the “Messengers from the Mantle” exhibit.

Kimberlites on display at the "Messengers from the Mantle" exhibit.

Kimberlites on display as part of the “Messengers from the Mantle” exhibit.

That’s all I’m going to write about Day #3… stay tuned for the posts about Day #4 and Day #5!