"Adaptability, combined with the stricter capital allocation and greater caution shown coming out of a lengthy downturn, has transformed the mining sector into a value conscious business."
Can you introduce SLR Consulting and explain the company’s presence in Ontario as well as its global footprint?
SLR is a global leader in environmental and advisory solutions. We help clients across the globe achieve their sustainability goals, and have more than 8,000 live projects at any one time, across 125 countries, with more than 1,600 employees worldwide. The services that we provide are advisory, engineering, environmental management, planning and approvals. In terms of sectors, we work with government, energy, finance, infrastructure, mining and power – including alternative energies.
In Ontario, SLR has 135 staff members across four offices: Toronto, Ottawa, Markham and Guelph. We put considerable emphasis in staying close to our clients and keeping abreast of industry trends and pressures. Toronto is a key mining hub in the country for our global practice and we make sure to leverage the environment and the TSX to support our clients – in most cases internationally. Most of our clients are based in Toronto but have projects all over the world. Our vision in the sector is to be a client-oriented business offering mining and environmental advisory solutions that are globally coordinated and managed.
What is the range of solutions that SLR offers the mining industry, and how can SLR Consulting help mining companies stay ahead of the game from an ESG standpoint?
Mining makes up approximately 30% of SLR’s business by revenue in Canada, and we work for a wide range of clients from majors to juniors. Our key role is integrating the mine operators, engineering and ESG components of a project. What is often lacking in mine management is interaction between these parties and it cannot be emphasized enough how these interests being balanced contributes to a project’s success. SLR also works a lot with tailings dam designs, audits and technical reports for mine closures, and we have been doing a lot of due diligence work for projects in Central and South America.
The scope of ESG in mining has widened significantly in recent years, but it is nothing new for the industry – even if the term is recent. Conducting operations in a way that is mindful of communities contributes to a company’s credibility in the market and towards lenders. For example, SLR’s global team of mine waste experts are technical experts and also understand the wide variety of social and environmental constraints to be considered when developing a mining project. Tailings management costs clients a lot of money and we want to make sure we spend that money as wisely and efficiently as possible while making sure neighbours, indigenous groups, nature and government are protected.
Can you elaborate on SLR’s work with Evolution Mining to build a new resource model for the Red Lake mine?
Over four months, SLR managed a collaborative team of 20 geologists to remodel Evolution’s Red Lake mines. The geologists used innovative techniques to overcome the project’s challenges of scale and timeline. It included the development of programming scripts to streamline existing workflows and a blended capping approach to effectively constrain very high grades during estimation. The outcome enables the owners to evaluate various mining scenarios at lower cut-off grades than previously considered possible.
How do you think the mining industry has dealt with the external challenges of 2020?
I think the mining sector has proved to be very efficient and resilient throughout 2020, while making sure that everyone has stayed healthy during the Covid-19 Global Pandemic. I speak with other sectors that have had a really hard time keeping moving, but the creative nature and strong health and safety focus of the mining industry has really helped the sector stay afloat in these trying times. It is inherent in mining to adjust to situations all the time – you do not truly know what you are mining until you mine it. This adaptability, combined with the stricter capital allocation and greater caution shown coming out of a lengthy downturn, has transformed the mining sector into a value conscious business.
Which strengths do you think make SLR Consulting stand out from its competition?
SLR is particularly strong in two main areas. Number one, our focus on the project. We are trying to sell solutions as a partner to the client, rather than simply for profit. For instance, we have no issue advising our client to work with other companies when we deem it useful. Secondly, we understand how we fit into the big picture. We find the best package that makes sure that all parties are satisfied and are mindful of all possible considerations such as costs, schedule and environmental commitments.