More than 300 health and safety experts and mining and metals executives recently brought to a close the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) 2012 Health and Safety Conference in Santiago, Chile. The three-day conference saw more than 60 speakers from ICMM member companies discuss topics such as leadership, worker health programs, community health management, safety in operations and eliminating fatalities.

“The last three days have been a successful exercise in sharing lessons learned and good practices that will certainly have a positive impact on how we move forward in the health and safety space,” said Anthony Hodge, president, ICMM, a membership organization that brings together 22 mining companies and 34 national and regional associations to tackle sustainable development issues facing the mining and metals industry.

After two days of keynote sessions and workshops, the delegates gathered with CEOs to reflect on the outcomes of the conference and identify necessary next steps.

“Good health and safety performance is a leading indicator of a well-managed business,” said Red Conger, president, Freeport-McMoRan Americas. “The last few days have given me and the rest of the Freeport team ideas to take home and implement and we will continue in our efforts to share what we learn with the ICMM community.”

Chilean Minister of Mines Hernán De Solminihac hailed the international organization for its efforts to raise the industry’s performance in sustainable development. “The mining industry has multiple challenges, such as the health and safety of its workers,” he said. “Our government’s concern in this issue was heightened following the San José mine accident. President Sebastián Piñera has asked us to work intensely to address this issue in a holistic fashion, by considerably increasing the number of site-level audits, the training of safety monitors and ensuring mine sites comply with national regulations.”

“For Codelco, it is no longer enough to deliver the resources that benefit all Chileans, we must also play an active role in improving international sustainability standards. We are here, shoulder to shoulder with our fellow ICMM member companies and associations, to find ways of improving how we take care of our employees,” said Thomas Keller, CEO, Codelco.

Anthony Hodge, ICMM president, closed the ceremony by stating the importance of Chile in the global mining and metals industry. “As an industry, we should be proud of the way we have made the well-being of our workers a priority and the way we have made worker health and safety a core part of our business,” said Hodge. “However, we still have a long way to go. It is our aim for this conference to be a stepping stone in that journey, looking to move us forward and improve the industry’s performance.”

The Health and Safety Conference ran from November 13-16 in Santiago, Chile. It is the second conference of its kind that ICMM has organized and brings together 300 top-level executives, including the CEOs of five member companies, to share best practices and learnings concerning common health and safety issues.