Meet Our Expert Speakers


The SME Arizona Conference is proud to present speakers who are experts in their respective fields with a focus on industry developments, trends and innovations specific to the Southwest.

*Please check back often for updates on speakers.

Monday December 5, 2022 | 8:30 am – 9:00 am


Kate Sommerville | General Manager, BHP Legacy Assets

Let’s Reimagine Our Legacy of Mining

If the mine you are operating will be stuck with your company forever – would you do something different?

As miners, the industry is expert at delivering safely at a price. Closure, traditionally, is pushed to the back of the balance sheet and given a magnifying glass once a year to make sure its cost does not impair the mine. The problem is that society demands more of us; governments are less willing to allow relinquishment, and there is real risk if the mine is sold off and the new company goes bankrupt, it will return to the balance sheet.

We realise that how we optimised in the past is not necessarily the best when we apply a modern set of optics. With the value of hindsight this paper examines case studies of mines in BHP Legacy Asset’s portfolio to compare short and long-term closure thinking and showcase important aspects of closure. Aspects of closure that we need to consider in an integrated way such as: risk; technical closure; water; social closure; stakeholder management; innovation; climate change; operational integration, and change.

BHP Legacy Asset’s operates 23 closed mines across the USA and Canada; 200 people including contractors; 108 dams in 23 different facilities and 12 water treatment plants, most of which BHP did not mine but acquired in transactions. Costs are real and, in some cases, forever.

The industry needs to become expert at reimagining how to operate with closure in mind. It requires an integrated approach: mining, geology, data, geospatial, geotechnical, finance, environment, water, renewables, community, and legal. The industry needs to be able to make the case for outcomes that have long-term benefit but which may require an increased short-term cost.

If the tension between short-term demands and long-term outcomes are realistic, beneficial to the environment and community, the industry can promote our licence to operate and all in it can be proud of our legacy.

About the Speaker:

Kate Sommerville is BHP’s General Manager Legacy Assets. She has responsibility for 24 closed mines across USA and Canada, a team of 200 including contractors. This includes 108 dams in 24 different facilities. The goal is safe, stable closure and to reduce risk through characterisation and remediation.

Kate has an engineering degree, an MBA, a First Class Mine Managers Certificate and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is a Fellow and Chartered Professional of the AusIMM.

Kate has over 29 years’ in the mining industry with a depth of experience in open cut and underground operations. She has worked a variety of technical, operational, management, contractor, consulting and corporate roles across a number of commodities. She has also served 6 years as Director for the Industry Professional Organisation AusIMM. She currently serves as a Director for the Arizona Mining Association.


Monday December 5, 2022 | 11:45 am – 1:00 pm


Steve Holmes | COO, First Majestic Silver Corp

Mining in Mexico – The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated

First Majestic Silver Corp. is a mid-tier Canadian gold and silver miner with seven operations in Mexico and one in Nevada.  While there are many similarities in mining in the two jurisdictions, there are also stark differences when conducting business in Mexico, Canada, or the United States. Cultural, political, regulatory, legal, workforce, and security issues make mining in Mexico more complex. Learn how effectively navigating the major differences and challenges when mining in Mexico has played a major role in First Majestic Silver Corp. rapid growth in the last two decades.

About the Speaker:

Steve Holmes is the Chief Operating Officer at First Majestic Silver Corp and has worked for four Tier 1 mining companies over his 40-year career. He is a second-generation mining engineer working in copper with Phelps Dodge, Freeport-McMoRan, and Asarco for 28 years before moving to Chile and starting the $4 billion KGHMI Sierra Gorda mine. In 2018 Steve switched to gold and silver, working as the lead Director for Barrick’s Global Joint Ventures and most recently as COO of First Majestic. A graduate of the University of Arizona in Mining Engineering, Steve also has an MBA and is currently the President of the SME Foundation. Steve is an Arizona native and resides in Safford, AZ with his wife Cindy.