Plenary and Panel Sessions

Sam Marcuson and Peter Warrian – Plenary Session


Donald R. Sadoway – Plenary Session


Big Ideas Session – Curated Panel


Hatch – Curated Panel Session


Insurance and Climate Change – Curated Panel 


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.

Sam Marcuson,

University of Toronto


Sam Marcuson is currently an Adjunct Professor at University of Toronto collaborating with personnel in the Sustainable Materials Research Laboratory. From 1980 to 2013, he worked at Vale Canada and its predecessor company Inco Limited retiring as Vice President Base Metals Technology Development. He is a Past President of the Metallurgy and Materials Society of CIM, a Fellow of the CIM and the 2018 recipient of the MetSoc Airey Award.

Peter Warrian,

University of Toronto


Dr. Peter Warrian is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. He was formerly Research Director of the United Steelworkers of America and Chief Economist of the Province of Ontario. He is Canada’s leading academic expert on the steel industry. His current research is on digital technologies and supply chains in the mining industry.

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​


Donald R. Sadoway is Professor of Materials Chemistry Emeritus in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His B.A.Sc. in Engineering Science and Ph.D. in Chemical Metallurgy are from the University of Toronto. He joined the MIT faculty in 1978. The author of over 180 scientific papers and inventor on over 37 U.S. patents, his research is directed towards batteries for grid-scale storage and electric vehicles and towards environmentally sound metals extraction technologies. His accomplishments include the invention of the liquid metal battery for large-scale stationary storage and the invention of molten oxide electrolysis for carbon-free steel production. He is the founder of six companies: Ambri, Boston Metal, Lunar Resources, Avanti Battery, Pure Lithium, and Sadoway Labs. Online videos of his chemistry lectures hosted by MIT OpenCourseWare extend his impact on engineering education far beyond the lecture hall. Viewed more than 2,400,000 times, his TED talk is as much about inventing inventors as it is about inventing technology. In 2012 he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

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?

Call for Big Ideas

Do you have a Big Idea and would like to be part of this session? Submit your Big Idea before May 5th.

Learn more

Sponsored by


Curated Panel Session – Wednesday, August 23, morning

Decarbonizing the metals and materials industry

Details on this curated panel will be posted at a later date. Stay tuned!

Sponsored by


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.


Paul Okrutny

Founder/President, Mitigateway