2023 Geological Engineering Distinguished Lecturer

Public Talk
Tony Hodge
Tuesday, March 28, 2023 · 7:00 pm
ESB 1012
Hosted by
Erik Eberhardt

*refreshments and mingling from 6:00 to 7:00 pm*

During the last half century, mining practices have been increasingly examined through the lens of their short and long-term implications to human and ecological well-being. The result has often been tension, as today’s insights and values challenge those of the past. This tension touches not only on the technical content of decisions but also the nature of how decisions are made. And it continues at a time when society’s need for mined materials continues to increase, particularly in support of the world’s transition to a low-carbon economy. This lecture begins with an overview of some of the major changes that the mining industry has experienced over the past 50 years. During this same period, sustainability ideas arose, eventually merging to some extent with ideas of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environment-socialgovernance (ESG). These threads of change are then wound together in a discussion of how the mine project life cycle has been treated through the years, how positively contributing to human and ecological well-being should be seen as an overarching two-dimensional design-criteria and how a quest for fairness in the distribution of implications across space and time and between interests is central to effective mine design and implementation and reduction of the trust-deficit that exists between mining and society. The implications to the global mining community are significant in terms of: (1) the choice of mine design criteria particularly the design time horizon; (2) the treatment of residual risks; (3) continued use of financial analyses that are ill-suited to the task when centuries-long time horizons are in play; (4) the challenge of achieving a “level playing field” between countries as pressure mounts to bring long term costs into the price of commodities; and (5) the way these issues are shared between practicing professionals and the public. Treatment of these issues is far from static in today’s world of rapid change. Practices continue to evolve. But what is sure, is that the geological engineer is particularly well equipped to make a constructive contribution as we learn our way into the future.

Speaker's Bio: 

Dr. Anthony Hodge, P.Eng. received his B.A.Sc (1972) and M.A.Sc. (1976) from the University of British Columbia in Geological Engineering with a focus on groundwater and related geotechnical issues. In 1995 he was awarded an interdisciplinary Ph.D. from McGill University for his work on Assessing Progress Toward Sustainability.

Early professional assignments included groundwater/geotechnical assignments in Belize, Tanzania, Panama, Dominican Republic and at various sites in the US and across Canada. In the late 1970s he served as Director of Research of the BC Royal Commission on the Environmental and Health Safety of Uranium Mining. In the 1980s he lived, played, and worked in the Yukon where he served as an environmental advocate, often focusing on mining-related issues. During that period, he also sequentially led a review of Yukon energy use and policy as part of a national study, was Technical Director of the Yukon River Study, served as Manager of Northern Benefits for DIAND, assisted the Federal Review of National Water Policy with its northern component, and co-coordinated development of Yukon 2000, a long-term economic development strategy for the Yukon. Later in the 1980s he moved east where he became the principal Canadian researcher of a State-of-Environment Review of the Great Lakes Ecosystem. He was also elected President and Chair of Friends of the Earth Canada and appointed a member of the Prime Minister’s National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

On completion of his McGill doctorate in 1995, he and his family (which by then included two children) returned to Victoria where he worked for a decade in private practice. Early clients were Noranda and Placer Dome. In the 1980s these two companies were the first to develop formal environmental policies. In the early 1990s, they were similarly the first to embrace the idea of sustainable development and entrench this concept into corporate policies. In the late 1990s, when commodity prices dipped, the mining industry faced significant public pressure on environmental and social fronts. Investors threatened to withdraw support. In response a group of the world’s largest mining companies mounted the Global Mining Initiative and its core project: Mining, Minerals, and Sustainable Development (MMSD). Dr. Hodge led the
North American component of MMSD. The resulting agenda for change was aimed at taking concrete steps to synchronize industry and societal values. The International Council on Mining and Metals was created as the delivery platform.

On completion of that work, Dr. Hodge took on a range of assignments as an independent consultant with communities, First Nations, governments, companies, and academia, all motivated by ideas of applied sustainability. He served as Senior Advisor with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization that in 2002 was charged with developing a strategy for managing the long-term storage of used nuclear fuel in Canada. In that program, Dr. Hodge facilitated the conversation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. Today, the resulting strategy is being implemented.

In September 2007, Dr. Hodge was appointed the first Kinross Professor in Mining and Sustainability at the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining Engineering, Queen’s University. Simultaneously, he was awarded the Helen and Arthur Stollery Professorship in Mining Engineering and Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering. In September 2008, with regret, he relinquished his Queen’s position to assume responsibilities as President of the International Council on Mining and Metals, London UK, the organization he had seen created six years earlier. During his 7 years there, ICMM companies took some major decisions. Commitments to transparency of mineral revenues were updated, a clear position on engagement with indigenous people was articulated including the concept of Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), mining’s partnership role in poverty reduction (amongst other priorities) in development was championed, a major program to address climate change and mining was initiated, a firm commitment to “zero harm” was made, and work on a strong water stewardship position was initiated. In 2015, he stepped back from ICMM.

Since then, he has continued writing and lecturing on mining and sustainability topics. He has focused on how to: (1) bring strengthened social and environmental performance across the full global mining community; (2) address the tough issue of mine closure and post-closure more effectively and efficiently; and (3) develop the methodology of “contribution analysis”, using a retrospective, full life cycle analysis of the Yukon’s Faro Mine.

He is currently an adjunct professor with the Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, and the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining Engineering, Queen’s University in Kingston. In addition, he is a member of the Natural Resource and Energy Leadership Council convened by RESOLVE in Washington DC and is a Board Chair and Director, EcoSmart Foundation, Vancouver BC.

In summary, Dr Hodge’s 50-year career since first graduating in Geological Engineering from UBC, has spanned a rich array of assignments with: companies, communities, Indigenous peoples, governments, civil society organizations, and in quasijudicial processes. Throughout he has explored both technical and social dimensions of achieving human and ecosystem well-being over the long term, seeking common ground between interests, and integrating multiple values into seeking solutions to some of the most difficult socio-technical-environmental-financial challenges facing today’s society.