The 2015 SME Annual Conference & Expo and CMA 117th National Western Mining Conference was held Feb. 15-18 in Denver, CO and, despite recent struggles for the global mining industry, SME recorded its largest ever annual conference, with 7,804 attendees, 103 technical sessions and more than 900 booth spaces sold.
With an eye toward the future of the industry, the keynote session of the conference was titled “The mine of the future: Forecasting opportunities and challenges for the global mining industry.” Panelists included Red Conger, president Americas, Freeport-McMoRan; Gwenne Hennricks, vice president, product development and global technology, Caterpillar Inc.; Bryan Galli, group executive and chief marketing officer, Peabody Energy; Dean Gehring, president and CEO, Rio Tinto Minerals and Barry Hudson, director of aggregates northern Europe, HeidelbergCement.
The panelists shared their visions of what the mine of the future will look like and what their respective companies, and the industry as a whole, needs to do to get to the future successfully.
The common theme among the panelists was that technology innovation will play a key role in the future, as mining operators and equipment manufacturers strive to create more efficient operations that will meet the higher demands placed on the industry by society and the communities in which the industry operates.
“The mine of the future will not be found, but will be built,” said Conger. “The mine of the future will work constantly with all of its stakeholders so that all effected parties benefit.”
Fitting with vision for the future were more than 600 companies displaying some of the latest and greatest advancements in technology on the exhibit show floor. The floor featured drones that will help map out and next generation of mines, software that will help companies use equipment autonomously and more efficiently, consultants, employers and a wide variety of vendors.
The technical sessions covered the entire scope of mining and mineral processing as well as sessions about underground construction and research.
In serving the future of the mining industry, the SME Board of Directors voted to create the Health and Safety Division. It is the first new division for the Society in 17 years, since the Environmental Division was formed in 1995. The Health and Safety Division will serve as a home to health and safety professionals and will add seven unique sessions to the 2016 SME Annual Conference and Expo in Phoenix, AZ.
Look for more coverage, of the 2015 SME Annual Conference in the coming issues of Mining Engineering.