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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.


Keynote Speaker

Monday December 9, 2019 | 8:30 am – 9:00 am

Dirk Van Zyl | Professor of Mining Engineering, Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, University of British Columbia

Tailings Governance: Are We Up to the Challenges?

Dirk van Zyl

The realities of tailings management at the mine site and enterprise level changed this year and the question is whether we are ready to accept and embrace the governance challenges that are the new reality. Does the technical expertise and experience amongst the tailings management professionals stack up to the technical challenges? Do we have sufficient numbers of qualified engineers to fill the Engineer of Record requirements? Are companies prepared to accept the proposed changes out there? How much responsibility can company Executives accept and honor? This is a truly a multi-dimensional world we find ourselves in and there is no doubt that the tailings community and the industry as a whole will live up to this challenge. This presentation will highlight these issues and suggest ways for moving forward in a continuous improvement framework that in the process can make real contributions to sustainable development for communities, regions and broader.

Dirk Van Zyl is Professor and Chair of Mining and the Environment at the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. Dirk has more than 40 years’ experience in research, teaching and consulting in tailings and mine waste rock disposal and heap leach design. During the last decade much of his attention has been focused on mining and sustainable development, mine life cycle management, tailings consolidation and mine closure. Dirk received a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering in 1972 and a B.Sc. (Honors) Civil Engineering in 1974, both from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He also received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Geotechnical Engineering from Purdue University in 1976 and 1979, respectively. In 1998 he completed an Executive MBA at the University of Colorado. He is a registered professional engineer in the US and British Columbia.


Monday, December 9, 2019 | 11:45 am – 1:00 pm


John Lacy | Director, Senior Shareholder, DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, P.C., Professor of Practice at the James E. Rogers, College of Law of The University of Arizona, and Director, Global Mining Law Center

New Options for Post-Graduate Education - Home Schooling in the 21st Century

John LacyJohn C. Lacy is a natural resources and business lawyer in Tucson, Arizona, with the firm of DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, P.C. John’s practice over that last 50 years has mainly been the representation of mineral exploration and mining clients in acquiring and defending rights necessary for the exploration and development of mineral deposits. He has also taught courses in mining law at the University of Arizona since 1976. As a part of John’s practice, he has devoted considerable efforts in the study of the history of mineral law and has maintained this interest through a long association with the Arizona Historical Society. In 2015, he was appointed (in his spare time) as the Director of the Global Mineral Law program at the James E. Rogers School of Law at he University and has organized and directs two on-line masters programs for graduate lawyers and mining professionals..

John grew up in La Oroya, Peru, where his father was Chief Geologist for Cerro de Pasco Mining Corporation, before moving to Tucson in 1955. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona (B.A. Journalism, 1964, J.D. 1967), and served in the United States Army (JAGC), 1968-72 (Vietnam service 1969-70).