Mining may be controversial but it isn’t going away anytime soon, moderator Paul Cadario warned the audience at the start of a daylong conference on the geopolitics of mining held last week at the Munk School of Global Affairs.
“We all take for granted what comes out of the earth, and nobody’s proposing that we give up our cellphones or stop constructing buildings or turn off our electrical power plants,” said Cadario, a former World Bank senior manager, former president of the University of Toronto Alumni Association and now an advisor to the Munk School.
Cadario’s view was echoed at the close of the conference by Keith Stewart, a part-time U of T lecturer and Greenpeace campaigner. “We would have to move to a world without extractive resources if we wanted to get rid of mining. That’s very difficult to envision.”
The conference was organized by a group of Munk Master of Global Affairs students. Co-organizer Hannah Cohen noted that the very venue of the conference could be considered controversial, as the Munk School is named for Peter Munk, founder of Barrick Gold Corporation, the world’s largest gold mining company.
Speakers at the two panel sessions – on economic development and responsible and sustainable business practices – included representatives of the mining industry, NGOs, journalists and academics. In the audience were Munk students, academics, people who work in the mining industry and anti-mining activists.
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