The SOMP AGM 2010 conference - Innovation in Mining will be hosted by Department of Mining of Tallinn University of Technology.

Program will contain conference presentations, poster sessions, SOMP Council and Committees meetings, workshops and will end with guided tours to Estonian oil shale mining district.

Message from the President of SOMP 2009/2010

It is my honor to welcome all members and interested parties of the Society of Mining Professors to Estonia next year. It is my pleasure to introduce our oil shale and other minerals industries and our mining education and science infrastructure to the world.

Estonia is located between three regions or countries that have influenced its mining culture. The German mining culture, education and research was the first major influence and still has its roots. Then it was transformed by the culture of the Soviet Union. Finally, independence in the 90s brought Scandinavian influences. At that time, Estonian mining professors joined SOMP. The Estonian oil shale mining industry is 94 years old and provides a valuable market for German, Russian, Finnish and Swedish equipment manufacturers, geologists and mining engineers.

The topic of the next Annual General Meeting in Tallinn, June 2010, is “Innovation in Mining.” This is a huge but important topic for a small country such as Estonia, with its limited number of mining engineers and scientists. It will require the active participation of the international mining community, as represented by SOMP. Although innovation was not covered explicitly, the 2009 Sydney Roadmap, which emphasized the importance of establishing collaborative networks, provides an excellent basis for thinking about innovation.

Innovation is difficult for individual participants in the mining sector to achieve, as each participant has selective pressures that work against innovation. For instance, industry is constrained by financial pressures, which have grown more salient given the recent worldwide economic downturn. Industry also has to face daily operational problems and issues, which mitigate against large-scale innovations. Engineers often do not fully understand these financial issues, and the need for free and unfettered publishing in academia and science often conflicts with industrial needs and practices. Thus, international bodies such as SOMP are required to supply the collaborative networks among industry and academia that are needed to bring about innovation.

Innovation is often generated as young, new partners move into the mining sector as old generations retire. The Sydney Roadmap provides the basis for ensuring that “young/new academics” be identified and mentored, and that innovative technical methods, such as Facebook, be used to develop networks of contacts among these newcomers to the field.

Finally, innovation requires that the best young people be attracted to the mining engineering disciplines, and the Roadmap emphasizes the role of SOMP in enhancing the image of the materials-producing industries, promoting the development of educational opportunities and courses, and fostering pride in the discipline.

In the next year, we must work from the Roadmap that was established by our members at the 2009 Sydney Annual General Meeting, but apply it to the exciting and crucial area of innovation. Thus, part of the task for the next conference is to find out the level, contents and factors influencing innovation in mining. The 2010 AGM in Tallinn presents a great opportunity to get this input from the highest possible source - the professors who teach and supervise the future leaders and engineers of the mining industry. I encourage all colleagues to participate in the activities of SOMP committees and to provide innovative papers, posters, presentations and ideas.

Estonia looks forward to play a role in the progress and innovations in the industry. I am happy to report that several students have already received doctoral degrees and that they are currently working in various areas of the mining sector.

I am looking forward to see you in Tallinn in June 2010

Ingo Valgma, Estonia

2009/2010 SOMP president
Professor and Head of Department of Mining, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
Head of Estonian Mining Society

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