Mining for Circularity

On October 7th, Coreo and the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition in collaboration with the Canadian Government hosted Mining for Circularity, a World Circular Economy Forum 2020 Online Side Event session. 

Through this session we facilitated dialogue among a range of companies, downstream metals buyers and civil society leaders, challenged conventional thinking and provoked deep reflection on how the mining sector and its value chain can accelerate the transition toward circularity. 

Mining for Circularity opened with a compelling keynote from Mark Cutifani, the CEO of Anglo American, on the imperative of the circular economy. 

“There is a strong rationale for us to engage with the circular economy that is strategic both from a planetary boundaries perspective and in order to support and accelerate our company’s ambitions. Furthermore, our customers are demanding it… If I look back over the years, we have characterized ourselves as a mining company, today we characterize ourselves as a metals and mining company, and tomorrow we could very well be categorizing ourselves as a materials solution company.” Mark Cutifani.

 Ashleigh Morris the CEO of Coreo then facilitated a panel with senior representatives from the World Bank, Rio Tinto and ArcelorMittal which highlighted that the challenges surrounding transitioning toward a circular economy are much smaller than the opportunities it presents. 

We then heard detailed case studies on how the circular economy is being taken out of theory and put into practice by Natural Resources Canada, Agnico Eagle, and Anglo American. Key highlights included the development of green hydrogen to fuel mining operations and capturing the full value from ore bodies with a focus on designing out waste and pollution. 

Lastly, Alan Young, a senior advisor to the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition, facilitated a panel with representatives from Earthworks and BMW on closed and open loop circular economy models. In this panel the urgency of the transition towards a zero waste/low carbon circular economy was made apparent and emphasised that there is no one right way to make this transition. 

The main themes that emerged through the session included:

  • The circular economy being recognised as an essential and practical tool to address carbon emissions through the entire value chain 
  • Partnerships and collaboration are and will be a key enabler to the circular economy

To augment the key insights and perspectives shared by our guest speakers throughout the session we ran polls asking key questions of our audience.

Session Registrants: The webinar sold out quickly, with 450 registrants signing up from 30 countries around the globe. There was widely diverse representation of interest from different sectors – governments, mining companies, downstream buyers and service providers, civil society and academics.


Next steps: This event was the first in a series of dialogues that seek to explore, define and help accelerate the pathway to a zero waste/low carbon circular economy for the mining and metals sector. Our plan is to work with a range of partners and experts to identify and address important questions related to public policy, market and finance structure and strategy, technological innovation and education.

Through these dialogues and collaborations, we seek to contribute to a community of practice that can help advance practical solutions, while promoting a longer-term vision and roadmap for the role of metals. Over the coming months we will be working to dig into a number of these questions, and to create a dynamic presence for circular economy mining and metals at the WCEF 2021, where we can look into the future together. 


About the Organisers:

Circular Economy Leadership Coalition: The CELC is an independent not-for-profit alliance of corporate and NGO leaders who work with governments, businesses and civil society organizations to advance Canada’s global leadership in achieving and contributing to a truly prosperous, sustainable, zero-waste, low-carbon-emitting circular economy that benefits the lives of people at home and abroad. It was being formed to provide thought leadership, technical expertise, and an action-oriented platform for the collaborative development and promotion of pioneering solutions that eliminate waste and accelerate the transition towards a circular economy.

Coreo: Coreo is a globally recognised and award-winning company who advise and guide industry and government through their circular economy aspirations at both a strategic and operational level. Recognising that the transition to a circular economy is systemic, Coreo works on projects in all key sectors of the global economy and prioritises those that will have the greatest impact on the production and consumption of materials; the regeneration of our natural world; and the quality of human connections. Coreo is supporting BHP, Rio Tinto and Anglo American in their transition toward a circular economy.