African Mining Network

AMN was established to develop and build relationships across Africa’s mining community, and give the world a preview of what is happening in mining in Africa.

AMN - People the key to a sustainable future – comment by Yolanda Torrisi

Yol headshot May 2011

The International Mining and Resources Conference and Expo (IMARC) was held in Australia last week and provided a great opportunity for the industry to come together and share its views despite the noisy protestors outside the venue. Among the speakers to capture my attention was Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business chief executive officer Tyler Mitchelson, with his take on how important people are to sustainability.

Mitchelson delivered a keynote address on the final day of the event and shared his view that technology was just one way to deliver sustainability.

Sometimes we forget that people are the ones to drive our new systems — not fancy new machines (generally!). Sustainable systems are a human effort and Mitchelson believes both people and community play a role. I couldn’t agree more.

Technology is run by humans and it must have a purpose — productivity, efficiency and successful projects.

Mitchelson argued last week, “Innovation and technology have a strong part to play in building a sustainable industry, but technology for the sake of it can lead to nowhere.

“In the future, when someone refers to ‘mining’ I hope they see a picture of people doing valued work in a cleaner, smarter and more socially responsible way, providing the essential ingredients for modern life.”

Communities and workers can drive change and efficiency, sustainability and progress. People are in fact mechanisms for change.

Just as driverless systems require humans to execute “manpower”, sustainable systems draw on workers and supportive community members to help deliver a sustainable future.

It’s true, there’s sometimes opposition to what we do. But there is also cooperation. Cooperative ventures are at the heart of what we do.

Communities play a role in sustainability and so do we. Let’s work together so we can build a sustainable future together.

Note: Thanks to all who’ve been in touch since seeing me in the media being escorted into IMARC past protesters on the first day of the conference. I’m doing well and am glad that we had a chance to turn things around at the event and hold meaningful discussions on a sustainable future.

- Yolanda Torrisi is Chairperson of The African Mining Network and comments on African mining issues and the growing global interest in the continent. Contact: