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Photo of  Nic Bilham

Nic Bilham



Programme: MPhil/PhD - Management Studies

Supervisors: Peter Hopkinson (Business School) and Frances Wall (Camborne School of Mines)

Proposed thesis title: Responsible sourcing of minerals - putting values into the value chain

Funding: University of Exeter Business School studentship

I started my research into responsible sourcing of minerals at the University of Exeter in September 2018.  My project is co-supervised by leading researchers at the Business School and Camborne School of Mines, and benefits from expertise across these bodies in responsible and sustainable mining, supply and management of raw materials, supply chain management, business sustainability and circular economy thinking.  We are interested in exploring further synergies between these areas.

I previously worked for many years at the Geological Society, most recently as Director of Policy and Communications, where I was also responsible for strategy development.  Throughout my career, I have been interested in the interplay of science (particularly geoscience) and society.  I have a strong commitment to the emerging field of geoethics through my role with the International Association for Promoting Geoethics and, as a trustee of Geology for Global Development, to the role of geoscience and geoscientists in sustainable global development.

I live in London but am formally based at the Penryn Campus, which I visit regularly.


PhD research project: Responsible sourcing of minerals - putting values into the value chain

We rely on the raw materials provided by mining for practically everything we do in our lives.  However successful we are in rapidly implementing circular economy initiatives, including through recycling, resource efficiency, improved 'cradle-to-cradle' approaches to design and closed-loop resource management systems, we will also continue to depend on primary production of a vast range of mined resources.

Mining activity has a historically well-deserved reputation for leaving a legacy of social and environmental damage in the places and communities in which it takes place, notwithstanding growing efforts over recent years to address these impacts.  Manufacturers are increasingly interested in these efforts as they seek to clean up and de-risk their supply chains, as are investors and other value chain actors.  There are now many responsible mining schemes, but their viability and effectiveness is often contested, and their impact is likely to depend on their having demonstrable value to and engagement from multiple actors across complex interacting supply chains and value chains, including mining companies, manufacturers, investors, retailers and end-point consumers. 

This project seeks to explore how different actors across the minerals value chain might assess the viability and value of responsible sourcing schemes and other mechanisms, so as to optimise their design, uptake and impact.


Professional memberships and activities

  • Fellow, Geological Society of London (2017 - )
  • Trustee, Geology for Global Development (2016 - )
  • Executive Council member, International Association for Promoting Geoethics (2016 - )
  • Chair, Portsmouth University Engineering Geology Industrial Bursaries Committee (2016 - 2018)
  • Chair, ReFINE Management Committee (2015 - 2018)
  • Member, Geosciences Policy Advisory Committee, American Geosciences Institute (2015 - 2018)
  • UK representative, European Federation of Geologists (EFG) Council (2015 - 2018)



BA, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge

MSc, Science and Technology Policy, SPRU, University of Sussex



Bilham, N.T. (2014). Voluntarism, Public Engagement, and the Role of Geosciences in Radioactive Waste Management Policy-Making. In M. Wyss & S. Peppoloni (Eds.), Geoethics: Ethical Challenges and Case Studies in Earth Sciences. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.