Release Date: 3/9/2016

World’s largest professional mining society draws more than 6,300 to annual meeting

SME Annual Conference & Expo held in Phoenix, AZ

The 2016 Annual Conference and Expo of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. (SME) was held at the Phoenix Convention Center Feb. 21-24, and brought together mining industry professionals from around the globe. More than 38 countries were represented during the Society’s four-day event, which featured 751 professional papers presented in 121 technical sessions and four professional short courses. Attendees received USB flash drives containing 171 preprint manuscripts.

“Despite the current weakened economic climate for the mining industry, the demand for mineral products will continue to grow worldwide,” said SME Executive Director David L. Kanagy. “The future for the mining industry is bright, and hinges on keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. The 2016 SME Conference & Expo was the perfect showcase for the latest opportunities, innovations and developments in our industry.”

The Phoenix meeting welcomed:

  • 6,309 attendees

  • 680 international attendees

  • 582 students

  • 627 exhibitors

  • 844 booths on the convention floor

The conference began with the keynote session, “Guarding Against a Normalization of Deviance,” bringing Colonel Mike Mullane into the spotlight with his evaluation of the phenomenon of repeatedly accepting lower standards of performance until those standards become the “norm.” He used the NASA Challenger tragedy and his Space Shuttle experiences to illustrate this tendency. Colonel Mullane completed three space missions and logged 356 hours in space aboard the shuttles Discovery and Atlantis before retiring from NASA and the Air Force in 1990.

At the Board of Directors meeting, 2015 SME President J. Steven Gardner passed the gavel to 2016 SME President Timothy Arnold. When asked for his assessment of the current health of the mining industry, Arnold replied, “I don’t remember a tougher time to be a miner. But there is hope. Our industry has one resource that no other industry does. We have miners.”

To read the entire interview with President Arnold, please visit Mining Engineering online at

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. (SME) is a professional society (nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation) whose more than 15,000 membership represents all professionals serving the minerals industry in more than 100 countries. SME members include engineers, geologists, metallurgists, educators, students and researchers. SME advances the worldwide mining and underground construction community through information exchange and professional development. SME's staff is located in Englewood, Colorado.

For more information contact Jackie Dorr, Communications Manager, at (303) 948-4244 or

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