Experts rated the level of young scientists competition held under the auspices of UNESCO


Human capital will remain the guarantor of sustainable development of the world economy in the future. This means that improving the system of training competent personnel and creating conditions for a painless change of generations in the most important sectors of the national economy should be a priority task for all national governments of all states of the world. This was the leitmotif of the International Competition for Young Scientists “Topical Problems of Subsoil Use".

St. Petersburg Mining University first time organized this forum 16 years ago. This year, for the first time, it was held in online format. However, this only heated up interest in it. Over three days, about 800 people from 49 countries of the world were able to present their reports selected during national competitions to experts (top managers of the largest mining and oil and gas companies, as well as leading scientists from 22 countries were in their role).

In total, the participants were the delegates of 295 foreign universities and scientific organizations from all continents and 62 Russian engineering universities. Their presentations on the ZOOM and YouTube platforms were watched by over two thousand people. Compared to the first such conference, the number of participants increased in more than 10 times, and since last year’s conference in one-and-a-half times.

From the Russian side, Rector of Mining University Vladimir Litvinenko set the tone of the forum in his the opening speech.

The transformation processes that are taking place in the energy industry today require careful regulation and must be balanced in such a way as to create favorable conditions for the rational use of hydrocarbons. Only such a strategy can ensure sustainable development of the world economy and, just as importantly, create prerequisites for progressive introduction of alternative technologies.

Rector of St. Petersburg Mining University Vladimir Litvinenko

Charles Hendry, President of the Board of Governors of the Russian-British Chamber of Commerce and former British Energy Minister, supported him. Dressed in the uniform of Mining University, he indicated that he was a visiting professor of the oldest technical school in Russia.

One day, mankind will give up fossil fuel consumption, but as long as it is yet impossible, it is necessary to work to change the process of its extraction, processing and use, to make it more profitable and cleaner, to change industry in the foreseeable future to work in the most sustainable way.

Charles Hendry, President of the Board of Governors of the Russian-British Chamber of Commerce, former British Energy Minister

Among the scientific areas discussed within the framework of 17 sections were the robotization of the process of mining in mines and open pits, the beginning of exploitation of deep deposits on the ocean floor, replacement of steel structures in construction with super strong plastic ones made of hydrocarbons, the increase of the coefficient of oil production, and many others. One of the main parameters by which the work was evaluated was the prospects for innovations in production chains. Obviously, these young people will be responsible for the progress of the mining industry in 10 or 20 years, and therefore, watching their presentations today, one can understand what structural changes are waiting for it.

The problems that the mineral complex is now facing cannot be solved in divided laboratories. They require consolidation of efforts, which depends, among other things, on the activity of the rector community. Whether we will be able to motivate talented young people to go to work for specialized enterprises and turn them into production facilities of the future. Our competition, like other projects of the International Competence Centre for Mining Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO, is a mechanism to create conditions for selecting the best in their fields and their further progress.

Rector of St. Petersburg Mining University Vladimir Litvinenko

Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov remined that the forum of young scientists “has long established itself as an authoritative international platform that allows students and postgraduates from around the world to fully demonstrate their capacities.”

It is the participants of the competition who will have to develop and implement technologies that will ensure a reasonable balance between the interests of the economy and the environment.

Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov

The shortage of engineers capable of guaranteeing sustainable economic development is a global problem. However, it is particularly sharp in Africa, Asia and Latin America. That is why UNESCO envoys particularly welcomed the fact that young scientists from countries such as Colombia, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and several others had joined the competition.

We understand our responsibility and try to contribute to peace in the world through knowledge and science. Our task is to ensure that the level of engineers everywhere is equally high. The Young Scientists Forum organized by Mining University and the International Centre for Competence in Mining Education has the same objectives.

Director of Division of Science Policy and Capacity-Building of UNESCO Peggy Oti-Boateng

Kirill Molodtsov, Assistant to the Head of the Presidential Administration, atributed the forum held by St. Petersburg Mining University as “one of the best sites for young people to demonstrate their knowledge and talents.” This statement is not an exaggeration. The status of the competition is constantly growing, and attention to it from Russian and foreign participants is going up. The interest on the part of experts is also increasing. For them, it is not only an opportunity to pay attention to promising guys, but also to get new ideas.

One of them is an opportunity to reduce costs associated with the operation of seismological sensors during tunneling operations. The development of Alexandros Evangelatos from Leoben Technical University provides for a significant increase in the profitability of the instrumentation.

Peter Moser, Vice-Chancellor of this university and head of the Austrian branch of the UNESCO International Competence Centre, said that further integration of the university community is one of the most important conditions for achieving the goals of sustainable development proclaimed by the UN. After all, “increased academic mobility on a global scale and an increase in the number of joint scientific research will allow us to more effectively meet our objectives.”

His colleague from Finland, Rector of Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology Juha-Matti Saksa assured his colleagues that he was ready “to make every effort to develop international partnership to save the planet.” He named projects related to water and air purification, land reclamation and technological waste management among the most promising in the framework of cooperation with the Competence Centre under the auspices of UNESCO.

By the way, the topics of the reports presented by young scientists from Suomi fully corresponded to this statement. They presented, for example, studies on closed-loop economy for galvanic waste and removal of nitrogen compounds from wastewater by capacitive deionization method.

The need to introduce at mining enterprises innovations that minimize the negative impact on the environment is well understood by representatives of major businesses. The PhosAgro Group, which has long been perceived by the market as an agricultural holding rather than a mining company, is just another example. There are reasons for this: phosphate fertilizers, which are used to produce raw materials from the Kola Peninsula, are in demand by agricultural enterprises on all continents except Antarctica. And the demand for them is constantly growing, including through the recognition of environmental friendliness of the product.

Today we see more clearly than ever how fragile our world is. In this regard, it is very important that many sections of the competition are dedicated to the sustainable development of mining production, the sustainable use of minerals. For us, this is a fundamental element of our long-term strategy, the basis for achieving ambitious goals. Our progress in this area was marked at the UN level: PhosAgro was recognized as one of the 36 global companies making the greatest contribution to sustainable development. Therefore, we monitor the work of these sections particularly closely.

Phosagro CEO Andrey Guryev

The works that aroused his interest include the project “Lean Production as the Basis for Increasing Operational Efficiency at a Chemical Enterprise” presented within the section “Economics of Sustainable Development and Global Investment Trends” by Ramis Basyrov from the Russian Technological University. Besides, Gugiev was interested in the project of Alexandra Ilyina from Mining University. She substantiated the use of new types of sorbents and extractants for the extraction of rare metals from apatite ore processing wastes.

One of the most serious environmental problems of our time is the production of associated gas (APG) during oil production. For a long time, it was simply burned in flares, without any worries about the fact that a huge amount of CO2 was thus released into the atmosphere. However, today around the world there are hundreds of enterprises that process APG into plastics, rubbers and other high-value-added products. Their work not only reduces the damage to the environment, but also allows you to create new jobs and make good profits.

Such production facilities exist in Russia as well. The largest of them belong to SIBUR. The Group employs 23 thousand people, with revenues in excess of USD 8 billion per year, and raw materials used to produce polyethylene, polypropylene, styrofoam and other products are purchased from nearby oil fields. In other words, instead of being burned and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, it works for the economy.

SIBUR is a company that, in our opinion, has been able to make innovations an integral part of its business. We are not a subsoil user; we process oil and gas by-products into innovative materials that are used in various industries and help the industry grow. On the agenda of the contest many sections intersect with the directions of our work in the field of sustainable development, in which we invest financial, human and intellectual resources every day. We value daring ideas and focus on developing the potential of young people.

Chairman of the Management Board of SIBUR Holding PJSC Dmitry Konov

In particular, Konov drew attention to a study by an Austrian young scientist Lorenz Lindenhal from the Technical University of Vienna. Konov spoke about his research aimed at creating new promoted catalysts that significantly improve the hydrocarbon processing process.

Let us remind that Andrei Guriev, Dmitry Konov and Juha-Matti Saksa are members of the Board of Governors of the International Competence Centre for Mining Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO, which has been the forum organizer since last year. The Supervisory Board of this structure includes Valentina Matvienko, Chairperson of the RF Federation Council, Alexander Novak, RF Minister of Energy, and a number of other prominent politicians. The tasks of the Centre are to create a unified system of international professional certification of engineers, to unify educational standards for specialized higher education institutions in different countries of the world, to increase academic mobility, to create and implement innovative technologies that increase the efficiency and safety of mineral enterprises.

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