Nearly 6,700 mining industry professionals gathered in Denver, CO from Feb. 24-27 for the 2019 SME Annual Conference & Expo and the 121st Annual CMA National Western Mining Conference.
The four-day meeting included more than 575 companies displaying their wares and talents on the exhibit floor and more than 100 technical sessions covering every aspect of the global mining industry.
The conference began with a look at one of the most pressing issues facing the industry, that of diversity in the workforce. At Monday morning’s keynote session Hannah Ubi, a millennial and a public speaker who joked that she is the proud owner of a sixth-place swimming trophy addressed a full house that consisted of many men with gray hair or balding heads. She spoke at length about how the industry must find ways to diversify not only to include more women and people of various ethnic backgrounds, but also to replace the workforce that is rapidly being depleted by retirements.
SME has been a leader in trying to find ways to retain talented people to both work in the industry and to teach the next generation, Ubi spoke about another challenge, of how to get the different generations to work together.
The conference also included technical sessions that covered the scope of mining, from the most technical aspects of minerals processing to the best ways to improve the perception of mining.
This year the IMPC Council attended to honor a legend in the Mineral processing community, Dr. Douglas Feurestenau.
“Other exciting activities included the growth of the SME Foundation with several new Corporate Roundtable Partners joining during the Conference and the announcement that the SME Foundation’s Ph.D. and Career Development Grant program is exceeding expectations at this point with two Ph.D. students graduating and taking a position in academia and two professors achieving tenure,” SME Executive Director Dave Kanagy said. “Overall, there was tremendous optimism in the current state of the industry with many exhibitors claiming this was the best event in any show they attended in five years.”
"Among the many highlights of the conference, I was really delighted by the topics being discussed in the Strategic and Division Meetings on ways to better serve and engage the membership, the overall quality of the technical presentations, including the renewed emphasis on exploration and economic geology, the productive discussions we had with a host of international organizations and groups on potential collaborations, and the distribution of awards recognizing the professional accomplishments of deserving individuals, companies, and organizations. Most of all, I enjoyed the opportunity to network with friends and colleagues at the meeting, as well as establish new relationships with others. I look forward to the coming year while serving as the 2019 SME President and the exciting opportunities and challenges it will hold.”
Look for more coverage of the 2019 SME Annual Conference in the upcoming editions of the Mining Engineering magazine.