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  • Responsible Raw Materials

Rowan Thorne – The role of the geologist in ensuring sustainable ESG standards: A case study from Li

Updated: May 11, 2021

The role of the geologist in ensuring sustainable ESG standards: A case study from Liberia, West Africa.

With the demand for raw materials ever increasing and the need for society to shift to a more sustainable future, the necessity to explore for and source raw materials to ensure a smooth transition to a sustainable economy is becoming ever more urgent. Based upon a study by the United Nations in 2015 the world’s population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and exceed 11 billion in 2100 (1). Coupled with this, projected population growth in global materials use is projected to more than double from 79 Gt in 2011 to 167 Gt in 2060, with a demand for metals increasing from 8 Gt in 2011 to 20 Gt and an increase in demand for non-metallic minerals increasing from 37 Gt to 86 Gt over the same period (2). At present, current mineral reserves/resources at operating mines cannot meet this projected increase in the demand for raw materials, therefore the need to explore for and exploit new mineral deposits is only growing in importance; especially with the growing urgency to transition to greener, more sustainable economy.

With these considerations in mind, it is clear that current production cannot meet current demand, therefore there is a strong need to explore for, identify and exploit new mineral deposits in more diverse and challenging environments and countries that have not extensively been explored or been exposed to the raw materials industry. However, the exploration for and mining of these raw materials face numerous environmental, social and political risks and challenges, and most often it is exploration and mining companies and associated industrial partners that are the first to encounter and address these challenges. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of these companies and associated partners to approach these challenges with the desire to implement policies around projects that ensure sustainable ESG standards and challenge the negative image of the mining industry to one that can be socially, environmentally and politically responsible and sustainable.

This talk will focus on the exploration for raw materials in environments that present a wide range of risks and challenges to operating a successful exploration program, from the perspective of an exploration geologist. More importantly, this talk will outline how risks and challenges can be over come and how exploration can be undertaken whilst ensuring the implementation and application of sustainable ESG standards. This talk will focus on the speaker’s experiences in Liberia, from engaging with local village chiefs to understand sensitivities and concerns of local communities surrounding exploration, to providing government authorities with social and demographic data to aid in health and infrastructure development. The talk will conclude with a discussion into how sustainable ESG principles can be applied in order to ensure sustainable and responsible exploration operations, and set a precedent for future development that acknowledges and respects the needs and concerns of local communities and respects the natural environment.


(1) population-to-reach-8-5-billion-by-2030-driven-by-growth-in-developing-countries/#:~:text=The%20world's%20population%20is%20projected,around%2035%20years%20from%20now%2C

(2) Relations are among the most complex issues facing mining companies.



Rowan Thorne (MSc, FGS) Cardiff, UK

Rowan is an experienced exploration geologist with 8 years’ experience in the exploration and resource industry, with a particular focus on exploration geochemistry and the implementation of sustainable exploration projects with a strong focus on ESG principles. He has experience working in different environments ranging from West Africa to the Lesser Caucaus Mountains in Armenia and throughout Europe.


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