Time to challenge possibilities

The Vatican Day of Reflection was a time to challenge possibilities. The possibility of what the mining industry might learn when we take time to listen. And the possibility of what might transpire when we forget about the prescribed models of stakeholder engagement and rather just engage.

Each step of the build up to the event was a lesson in honouring wisdom and experience. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and their affiliates shared their experience and wisdom without measure. In industry, we seldom take time to seek out such wisdom and I believe that this Day of Reflection was the turning point for such engagement.

I have worked in and for the mining industry throughout my career and focused almost entirely on engagement and environmental and economic issues. I believe that we have become formulaic in our thinking about the challenges and therefore the solutions never really materialise in an enduring manner.

I felt a sense of brotherhood among the industry participants, spurred on by a great deal of awe for the place and people of the Vatican and the Council.

This brotherhood is what will create endurance – for it is the same brotherhood or kinship that communities expect of mining companies. We operate in their backyards and neighbourliness is the one thing we should be getting right.

The other realisation from the Day is that the mining industry needs to learn to tell its own stories – in a captivating and consistent manner. And while sharing our truth, we also need friends who will share those stories as well. But to do so, we need shared history. The stories of the industry are stories of civilisation itself – of our growth, of our dependence on the earth, of our building of cities and of our work toward eradicating poverty.

We need to ensure that our truth is as alluring as the gold and diamonds and other metals and commodities that we mine and produce.

I believe that the strength of the industry leadership at the Vatican Day of Reflection can deliver on a call to realise that truth wherever mining occurs.