While I contemplate the formidable catalogue of bodies and organisations participating in this Conference and the impressive array of qualifications chalked up after the names of the representatives I am indeed honoured to be invited to address you. When I consider the theme you have chosen for your conference I am also somewhat daunted: “The Twenty First Century – Mining for Mankind”. It is indeed dramatic, challenging. But what, I ask myself, can a mere KCMG say to all you professional fellows and doctors and academicians? It is not for me to stray on to the more esoteric areas that you will be covering, thereby running the risk of teaching my grandmother how to suck manganese nodules. On the other hand it seems to me that you deserve more than the courtesies, not to say banalities, that are sometimes – sadly, and unjustly – regarded as the stock in trade of diplomats.