John Thompson - Honorary Professor of Sustainable Resources
Dr John F. H. Thompson was appointed to an Aegis Professorship in January 2021, as Honorary Professor of Sustainable Resources in the School of Earth Sciences.
John’s expertise is in geology and the earth’s resources, in particular the minerals industry, in which he has over 35 years’ expertise. 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 is on the Boards of exploration and technology companies, and advisory groups for venture capital, clean technology and sustainability.From 2013-18, John was the World Professor of Environmental Balance for Human Sustainability at Cornell University, and he continues to have research and advisory roles at Cornell as an Adjunct Professor. He has previously visited Bristol, in December 2019, as a Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professor. Since 2012, he has also partnered in a consulting business based in Vancouver, BC, where he provides strategic analysis and advice related to exploration, mining technology and sustainability.
In the Aegis Professor role, John will work with faculty and students to investigate the complex issues facing society in the exploitation of the earth’s resources. Metals can play vital roles in providing the clean energy and transportation needed for sustainable living. The future therefore depends on the discovery of appropriate sources of critical metals, responsible mining and extraction methods, and the creation of secure supply chains. John will seek to generate discussion and facilitate research collaboration in these areas, including:
Copper. Copper is an important infrastructure and technology element that will play a major role in the energy transition, specifically the electrification of transportation. As a result, various estimates suggest that copper demand will increase by 150-300% over current demand by 2050. John will facilitate additional, multidisciplinary research collaboration related to the formation of copper deposits and the application of new technologies and approaches that enhance both performance and sustainability goals.
Battery technology.Battery technology is the key to the growth of electric vehicles, but batteries require specific metals such as lithium and cobalt. This raises the challenge of restricted sources, and environmental and social issues. Researchers in the School of Earth Sciences have joined colleagues from several UK universities to develop research focused on concentrated pools or ‘brines’ of lithium in the Andes, including work with local communities. They will also investigate the potential for lithium recycling.
Environment, social and governance (ESG) factors. ESG factors are likely to impose significant constraints on the timely supply of critical metals. Work here will be multidisciplinary, incorporating earth science, social science, business and international development, and environmental studies.