Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professor John F H Thompson, University of British Columbia, Canada, and Cornell University, USA

John F H ThompsonEnhancing the sustainable supply of critical metals with a focus on copper

10 November - 25 January 2020


Dr Thompson has for the last six years (2013-2018), divided his time between Cornell University, where he was the Wold Professor of Environmental Balance for Human Sustainability, and Vancouver, BC where he provides strategic analysis and advice related to exploration, mining and sustainability. In 2019, he completed his term at Cornell but continues to have research and advisory roles at the university. John has over 35 years of experience with the minerals industry and related research. He was VP
Technology and Development and Chief Geoscientist for Teck Resources (1998-2012) and worked previously with Rio Tinto and BP Minerals. In the 1990s he directed the Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU) at the University of British Columbia where he managed major collaborative research projects funded by Federal and Provincial agencies and companies. He has had diverse leadership roles in many organizations including Chair, Resources for Future Generations 2018; Chair, Genome BC;
President, Society of Economic Geologists; Co-Founder and Chair, Geoscience BC; Co-Founder and Chair, Canada Mining Innovation Council; and member of two councils for the World Economic Forum. He is on the Boards of exploration and technology companies, and advisory groups for venture capital, clean technology and sustainability.

Project summary

Metals will play an increasingly important role in providing clean energy and transportation to meet human and climate change imperatives. Copper, a major infrastructure metal, has become a vital component in renewable energy and the electrification of transportation. As a result, various estimates suggest that copper demand will increase by 140-300% over current demand by 2050. To meet this demand, the world will need new sources of copper including expansion of existing mines, new mines, and improved recycling. Finding and delivering significantly more copper from natural resources in a manner consistent with sustainability goals is a prerequisite for the future. Initial work with this project will focus on engaging faculty and students on topics related to the changes in energy supply, demand for copper and other critical metals, new approaches to discovery and mining, and the related environmental and societal challenges.
Specific research goals will be to improve the understanding of a variety of different copper resources (copper deposits). This will build from ongoing research at the University of Bristol related to major copper deposits, and will include the examination of unconventional copper deposits in British Columbia and Chile. Collaborative research will examine the tectonic, petrological and hydrothermal differences among these deposit types in order to better understand the critical processes that led to the formation of economic copper deposits. Refined models will guide exploration for new deposits, and better characterization of
deposits will assist responsible mining.

Dr Thompson is hosted by Dr Alison Rust, Earth Sciences.

Planned events:

Open Lecture:
Climate, energy and metals – sustainable solutions

Wednesday 15th January, 5.15 pm
Peel Lecture Theatre, University Road (located in Geographical Sciences)
All welcome

Workshop will be provided at the undergraduate-graduate level focused on resources with an
emphasis on Earth science processes, discovery, and effective extraction that minimizes impact. Details to be announced shortly.