Plenary and Panel Sessions
Plenary Session – Monday, August 21, afternoon
To open the 62nd Conference of Metallurgists, long-time MetSoc members, Sam Marcuson and Peter Warrian will be giving two separate talks back-to-back on the topic of Metal Production, the Environment and Economic Assumptions Underlying Commoner’s Four Laws of Ecology. A Q&A session will follow where the audience can ask both speakers their questions.
Presented by Sam Marcuson
Metal Production and the Environment + 50
50 years ago, as the USA endured energy and environmental crises, Professor H.H. Kellogg of Columbia University created a graduate-level course he titled Metal Production and the Environment. The course was a “sellout” enrolling process engineers, materials scientists and geologists. Kellogg was a pioneer in the field, particularly in quantifying energy requirements for metallurgical extraction and advocating for fundamental changes to both metallurgical processes and consumption patterns. This paper reviews the environmental principles taught and compares the predicted and proposed outcomes with the actual “state of the world” a half century later. Topics include the concepts outlined in two environmental “bibles” of the time, The Closing Circle by Barry Commoner and the Club of Rome’s study Limits to Growth, and case studies of resource depletion, environmental impact and the energy required for production of steel, copper, lead, zinc and aluminum.
Presented by Peter Warrian
Looking Again at the Economic Assumptions Underlying Commoner’s Four Laws of Ecology
Barry Commoner’s Four Laws of Ecology are as valid today as they were when first stated in 1973:
Everything is connected to everything else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all. Everything must go somewhere. There is no “waste” in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.
However, the economics in which these principles are applied has fundamentally changed.
The reference industrial organization on which his analysis was applied for metals and metallurgy was the integrated industrial organization of mining companies in the 1970s. This is no more. Mining companies now hold portfolios of individual ore bodies and supply chains have replaced vertically integrated mining operations.
‘Social Thrift’ as the equilibrium mechanism to balance commercial and social imperatives never caught hold in public policy. The policy environment was fundamentally changed by the coming to dominance of neoliberalism led by Ronald Reagan and Margret shortly after the book was published and has had a 40 year run of dominance in public discourse which is only now coming to an end.
The consumption boom of growing middle class affluence, the ‘American way of life’ which drove the ethic of perpetual growth in demand for resources in the Postwar period has, in the OECD countries suffered a long term decline by stagnant wages and a disappearing middle class. It was been replaced by the emergence of China and a Chinese middle class and the emergence of China as the leading metals processing and consumption which has transformed the global metals and metallurgy industry.
Finally, the thematic of the circular economy has grown in importance impacting environmental policy and resulted in significant technical accomplishments. However, it has not had the impact that was expected. The new economics theme of “natural resources as social capital” has the prospect of greater rebalancing of environmental and economic concerns going forward.
University of Toronto
University of Toronto
Plenary Session – Tuesday, August 22, morning
Electrometallurgical Pathways Towards Profitable Sustainability
A sustainable future is a carbon-free electric future. Technologies that will usher in this new era include innovations in energy storage and in steelmaking. Invented at MIT, the liquid metal battery provides colossal power capability on demand and long service lifetime at very low cost and without threat of fire. As an alternative to today’s carbon-intensive thermochemical steelmaking process, molten oxide electrolysis, invented at MIT, produces liquid iron with oxygen as the by-product while delivering better metal at lower cost than the legacy technology while vitiating its negative environmental impacts. In the narratives of both these technologies which trace their origins to chemical metallurgy there are lessons more broadly applicable to innovation: how to pose the right question, how to engage young minds (not experts), how to establish a creative culture so as to invent technology while inventing inventors.
Donald R. Sadoway
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Big Ideas Session – Tuesday, August 22, afternoon
The Big Ideas will be presented in a fast-paced session. Each speaker will have 5-7 minutes to give their pitch and convince the audience. The presenters are encouraged to follow a PowerPoint format inspired by the fast-paced PechaKucha method (20 slides at 15 seconds each).
The Big Ideas should align with the overall theme of the conference: Climate Change and Sustainability, but a lot of flexibility will be allowed. Suggested topics include:
- Mineral and metals conundrums
- Where will all the minerals/metals come from for our low-carbon future?
- How will we decarbonize our industry?
- Is profitable sustainability an oxymoron?
Curated Panel Session – Thursday, August 24, morning
Risks and Opportunities in the Climate Change era from an Insurance Perspective
Join us for an enlightening session that brings together insurance industry experts to discuss climate risk and its downstream effects on those who rely on insurance capital for their operations. We’ll start with a 10-minute refresher on insurance, covering important concepts like policy pricing, claims, and how the global trillion-dollar insurance industry operates.
Next, our discussion with insurance experts will focus on the various risks posed by climate change, illustrated with historical examples to highlight their significance. Finally, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of strategies for mitigating climate risks and capitalizing on opportunities presented by proactive preparation.
Our session aims to help position organizations for long term success by providing valuable insights, including a better understanding of climate risks, practical steps to minimize exposure, and access to contacts and tools for further information. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from industry experts and prepare your organization for the challenges and opportunities of climate risk.