San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
UCL ISR Seminar
Wednesday 18 November
Remaking the Mining Industry: How the commodities boom transformed the mining industry and what it means for mining’s future
By David Humphreys
The emergence of China as a major economic power in the first decade of the millennium prompted the biggest commodity boom of modern times. Soaring prices gave rise to talk of a commodity ‘super cycle’ and to the notion of commodities as a ‘new asset class’. At the same time, higher prices stirred up concerns of supply shortages in mineral-consuming regions like the US and the EU. Although the boom has now passed and commodity prices have fallen back, it is argued that the boom catalysed some important and lasting changes in the mining industry which will play an important part in shaping its future. The customer base of the industry shifted decisively towards emerging economies, there were important changes in pricing mechanisms for the industry’s products, the competitive environment changed as a cast of new players arrived on the scene, and the industry became politicised through the resurgence of resource nationalism. Amongst the challenges that the industry will have to face in coming years will be extreme uncertainties over commodity prices and challenges flowing from tightening environmental controls and from geopolitical fragmentation.
David Humphreys is an independent consultant, based in London. He was previously chief economist of Rio Tinto (1997-2004) and of Russia’s largest mining company, Norilsk Nickel (2004-2008). He has also been a non-executive director of UK-listed Russian gold miner, Petropavlovsk plc. Prior to entering the mining industry, David worked for nine years in UK government service, for six of these as an advisor on minerals policy. He was co-founder and first vice president of the industry federation Euromines. David has written and lectured extensively on the economics of the mining industry, authoring over two hundred articles and papers on a range of subjects including commodity markets, trends in the mining sector, speculation, sustainable development, mining in Russia, the impact of China, and national minerals policy. He is the author of The Remaking of the Mining Industry (Palgrave 2015) and writes a regular column for Mining Journal. He has been a visiting scholar at the Colorado School of Mines and the Catholic University of Chile in Santiago, a Bosch Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy in Washington DC, and is an honorary lecturer at the University of Dundee. He has a bachelor's degree and PhD from the University of Wales.
When & Where
UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources
The UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources was established as an academic department in 2011. It is a cross-disciplinary institute set up to carry out research, teaching and enterprise work in the research theme of sustainable use of resources and the environment and to bring together capabilities from across UCL. In 2012 we were re-located within the Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment, and have developed a close relationship with UCL-Energy, with which we undertake joint projects, and share research tools and approaches.