“People are realizing they have to implement innovative ideas. We are seeing a more open industry not only in discussing innovation but also in integrating it in practice. Canada must be a leader in this regard in order to be economically sustainable.”
How can Canada maintain its competitiveness in a global market despite high labor costs?
With high priced labor, your competitiveness is in productivity. You must be innovative, and, as an industry, we have been. Canadian mining has been very innovative in many areas; its mineral processing technology is only one example. We are the leading country in implementing battery-operated and autonomous equipment and a leader in alternative energy, as well as in safety and environmental responsibility. These advances help offset the costs of deeper mines and higher labor and are critical to obtaining the social license we need to operate in a sustainable manner.
People are realizing they have to implement innovative ideas. We are seeing a more open industry not only in discussing innovation but also in integrating it in practice. Canada must be a leader in this regard in order to be economically sustainable. Other countries look at standards set by Canadian mining, and as such we are influential in the global market. Investment has become global, and therefore decision makers look at best practices internationally, and not only in the jurisdictions in which they operate.
Can you elaborate on the One CIM initiative?
The CIM has been around for a long time, and the goals have not changed. They are strong goals that help our industry to create and deliver knowledge, to create a robust network and to facilitate mineral literacy and public awareness.
CIM is made up of 10,000 individual members, 30 branches, 10 technical societies and all our corporate members as well. The idea of “One CIM” is about working together. It is not something we do; it is about how we do things. For example, the Mineral Economics Society works with the Toronto branch to organize the “Rocks and Stocks Conference.” In the spirit of “One CIM,” we want to expand this to Vancouver. We also want to expand our educational models. It is about working together and leveraging our expertise to fulfill more of our goals as an association.
CIM hosts a number of conferences, headlined by the CIM Convention. How have these conferences evolved and what can we expect from the 2020 edition in Vancouver?
In 2019, for the CIM Convention in Montreal, we changed a few things. We shortened the plenary, allowing extra time for people to visit the trade show. We also put an innovation showcase in the trade show so that different groups could present their new technologies to the delegates.
The CIM academy has been created in order to capture the presentations that take place in our convention and make them searchable online. In future conventions, we want to conduct podcast interviews and webinars in addition to the presentations.
Finally, we are looking into organizing more specialty conventions, such as the upcoming shaft conference. The idea is to fill knowledge gaps. The CIM wants to extend the content to those who might be unable to attend. For example, we intend to live stream the general presentation on shafts to mining schools, in an attempt to foster engagement between the industry and academia. CIM can be the conduit to greater collaboration.
On what path would you like to see the industry moving beyond 2020?
One of CIM’s three main aims is to improve public awareness and mining literacy. For many years the mining industry has made an effort to educate the public on the importance of minerals. The saying “if it can’t be grown, it has to be mined” is well known. Public awareness is not a marketing campaign, it is educational, and we want the public to have a better understanding of mining. The public must realize that minerals and mining will be a big part of the solution to climate change, enabling electric, battery and alternative energy solutions. They play an essential role in the EV movement that is going to replace diesel. Electric equipment in underground mines also reduces ventilation requirements, which is typically the largest single power draw in underground mining; not only does it change the power source, it reduces the power need.
Additionally, I feel our industry has gone from a state of compliance to one of commitment. It is not only about adhering to the laws and regulations – we must go beyond that. For instance, the Canadian industry has become a leader in relations with First Nations peoples and the environment. This creates new standards, and while the industry has done well in this regard, it must continue to do so.