June/July 2014

Record-breaking attendance

CIM Convention 2014 proves that Mining is 4 Everyone

By CIM Staff

CIM Convention 2014 organizers and volunteers could not have asked for a better week: the sun was shining, attendance records were broken and, with the diversity of presentations and delegates from 49 countries, the event truly illustrated that Mining is 4 Everyone.

Patty Moore, convention general chair, said she was really pleased with the early numbers. “We’re more than 7,000 [attendees] and we had 1,268 delegates, which I believe breaks a record,” she said on site. This was confirmed after the event, which took place from May 11 to 14.

A learning moment

Panning for gold at M4S with Yukon Dan
Panning for gold with Yukon Dan
Jon Benjamin Photography

As out-of-town delegates and attendees arrived in Vancouver for CIM’s annual flagship event, the Vancouver Convention Centre was already bustling with activity. M4S (Mining for Society) CIM’s popular educational show, opened to the public on Sunday, with participants engaged in interactive activities that detailed the entire mining cycle. Roughly 70 exhibits spread throughout seven pavilions focused on best practices in the mining industry, with an emphasis on how mining relates to everyday life.

The interactive event, which welcomed more than 2,900 participants, was also open to local schools, with students, aged eight through 18, taking part in the fun and the learning experience. Natalie Roberts brought her grade 7 class from HD Stafford Middle School in Langley, B.C. This was the first year she decided to organize a fieldtrip to M4S and her students loved the interactive activities. “It’s a great opportunity for hands-on learning,” said Roberts.

“It’s really neat!” exclaimed Lauryn, one of Roberts’s students, whose favourite part of the event was using an optical communications system simulator at the Penguin ASI booth.

While young people learned the ins and outs of the industry, mining professionals got to delve deeper into a wide variety of subjects at nine workshops held on Sunday. Topics ranged from explaining new rules under NI 43-101 to dust control to advice on gaining and retaining social licence, allowing participants to improve their knowledge in these areas and learn from subject matter experts.

Planning for the future

All the while, CIM’s brain trust was busy fleshing out the details of its strategic outreach initiative at its inaugural Leadership Congress. This event brought the organization’s executive and national staff together with branch and society leaders. On the table: the future of CIM activities and how they can meet the needs of the institute’s members.

The roughly 50 congress participants discussed the six goals that came from membership surveys and round table talks with districts and societies over the last year. CIM leaders debated the institute’s priorities and what sorts of activities the organization should pursue to achieve its goals. Outgoing president Bob Schafer said he hoped the new strategic plan would be adopted at the next CIM Council meeting in August.

But the implementation of this plan will fall to CIM’s newly minted president, Sean Waller, president of Candente Copper Corp., who was inducted at the Annual General Meeting.

CIM’s financials were also presented at the meeting, with outgoing affable finance chair Michael Cinnamond painting a healthy picture of CIM’s purse, indicating that although CIM had budgeted for a loss of $200,000 in 2013, it had actually turned a $47,000 surplus.

Opening up

 Expo participants
More than 500 exhibitors showed
off their goods on the sold-out Expo! floor
Jon Benjamin Photography

On that positive note, delegates set off to enjoy a drink and to see old – and meet new – friends at the Surface and Underground Mining Societies’ reception, which was being hosted jointly by the two societies. The attention then turned to the SMS Equipment and Komatsu opening reception that started off the convention with a bang – literally. After SMS Equipment president and CEO Bruce Knight and other CIM dignitaries welcomed guests, Schafer was called to the dais. Channelling his inner Wile E. Coyote, he pushed down a trigger that ignited an impressive pyrotechnic display of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” which culminated in a gigantic boom heard throughout the convention centre.

With adrenaline flowing, the Expo! floor was opened. More than 500 mining company suppliers, equipment manufacturers, technology and service providers, and consultants showed off their wares. Patricia Ceron, marketing manager from Dassault Systèmes Geovia, said she was busy on the floor: “Generally, we are talking to senior engineers, managers and CFOs. It has been great.”

Mining 4 Everyone: the plenary

On Monday morning, more than 600 mining professionals attended the “Mining 4 Everyone” themed plenary session, where moderator and CBC journalist Mark Kelley was frank to attendees when addressing diversity in mining and its reputation in general: “I would humbly say that you have an image problem.”

But, as panelists illustrated, the reputation in part comes from incomplete and uncoordinated communication with the public. As Rio Tinto Canada regional vice-president and newly announced CIM incoming president-elect, Virginia Flood noted: “We give ourselves an image that mining is only about extraction and engineering. Many don’t connect improving living standards to mining.”

Mining is indeed the largest employer of aboriginal Canadians and it generates business opportunities for residents in remote communities, where employment is often lacking. Oumar Toyugeni, Iamgold’s regional vice-president of West Africa, said his company tries to maximize local hires, which reduces ex-pat employment and, along with it, the perception that a project is only benefitting foreigners.

Cameco follows this practice at its Australian and northern Saskatchewan uranium operations, as the largest private aboriginal employer in the country. But Alice Wong, Cameco’s chief corporate officer, said there is definitely more work to be done: “We need to move them on into technical jobs and management jobs.”

Ted Thomas, special advisor with the Devonshire Initiative, spoke about how small and early misunderstandings between companies and communities can blow up to become disputes or conflicts. He referenced a Harvard paper that pegged the costs of daily dispute delays at $10,000 for a lucrative exploration project and $3 million for a mid-sized producing operation.

Kaminak Gold has recognized this, considering early engagement with communities a no-brainer. With its Coffee Gold project in Yukon, Eira Thomas, CEO and president, said the company signed an exploration cooperation agreement with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation which included commitments to communicate potential project impacts, investigate local business opportunities at the exploration stage, and allow the community members to have a say in the design of the environmental assessment baseline studies.

Dirk Claessens, IBM’s vice-president of industrial sector growth, gave attendees some tangible ways that miners could gauge public sentiment and promote the industry during his opening remarks. “Technology allows you not only to read the information around you, but understand what [local residents are] saying, so you can do something with it,” he said.

Internationally known

 West Africa delegation group photo
The delegation from West Africa was made up of roughly 75 representatives
Jon Benjamin Photography

The plenary session was available live online for the second year and around 100 people streamed the event. Convention delegates came from all over the world too. Roughly 75 representatives, made up mainly of local businesspeople from Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire, looked to identify Canadian suppliers to integrate into their supply chain at the event. International delegations from Latin America and Mongolia also attended. Rafiou Oyeossi, director general of Sparex, a central purchasing department for the materials industry in Côte d’Ivoire, came to the convention in the hopes of finding potential equipment suppliers for his clients in West Africa. “I think here we’re going to find our procurement solution,” he said.

Getting technical

Technical program participants 
 Taking in the technical sessions
Jon Benjamin Photography

Answers to many unique operational or philosophical questions were to be found at one of the more than 40 technical program sessions offered. This year’s lineup was broken down into six different streams: global dimensions of mining; innovations; harnessing our diverse world; construction to production; managing operations from mine to mill; and rock engineering.

The technical program also included an ethics in mining symposium. Rio Tinto Fer et Titane’s Candace Ramcharan was one of several speakers who focused on the topic of equitable partnerships with local communities. Individual relationships often define partnerships between mining operations and local communities, and the inevitable staff turnover at mine site means that those valuable relationships are easily undone. To guarantee continuity, Ramcharan said, good governance has to be in place to ensure connections are not lost. Operations must have people who will be champions of the partnerships, and she stressed those “champions must be deeply convinced of the value of the partnerships.”

Women in mining

 Women in Mining speaker Christine Marks
Goldcorp’s Christine Marks delivers the 
keynote speech at the Women in Mining reception
Jon Benjamin Photography

On Tuesday, more than 400 attendees gathered for the Women in Mining Reception to discuss barriers holding women back from careers in the industry and how to break down those walls.

Christine Marks, Goldcorp’s director of corporate communications, spoke about the company’s “Creating Choices” program in her keynote speech. Four years ago, Goldcorp developed the program to train, develop and mentor women in the company. In the three years since its launch, Creating Choices has graduated more than 1,000 women to much success.

Student time

The convention also helped students connect with potential mentors and even try to land jobs, as part of its student program and job fair. At the Student-Industry Luncheon, young professionals got a chance to chat with mining professionals and company recruiters, while also listening to helpful tips on how to stand out from other recruits.

Talking money

The popular Management and Finance day
Jon Benjamin Photography

The convention’s technical program closed off on Wednesday with the Management and Finance Day that featured talks, presentations and a panel discussion on topics ranging from proper due diligence, risk management, market and commodity analysis to equity trends.

Gordon Bogden, Avanti Mining CEO, opened his presentation on trends in mine financing and access to capital issues on a dire note. “Financing for mining companies in the current economic climate is a difficult task, as conventional sources of debt and equity financing have been drying up steadily,” he said, before qualifying that his statement had previously been made at PDAC 15 years ago.

Hybrid is not just a kind of vehicle

When asked what participants of all categories may take away, Lise Bujold, CIM director of conventions and trade shows, said: “Technology has allowed us to expand on the experience for everyone, both the on-site and remote participants. The conversation on social media during the convention, the sharing of pictures, the use of the mobile application by 1,500 people and the live broadcasting of sessions – it all makes for a powerful hybrid event with views from the inside out and vice versa. It also reduces the need for paper and printed materials.”

Mining a foundation of Canadian life

Representatives from mining and related industries came together for the CIM Closing Luncheon, held in conjunction with the Vancouver Board of Trade. Karina Briño, President and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia and keynote speaker, discussed the importance of mining in daily life, from technology to infrastructure. She also spoke to the benefits of the mining industry on the local BC economy as a major employer in the province. “We want to send a strong and positive message,” said Briño. “Let’s work together to make sure the mining industry grows.”

No shortage of fun

 Joy Global Gala
Attendees danced the night away 
at the Joy Global Gala
Jon Benjamin Photography

Of course, the convention was not all about professional development, business wheelings and dealings, and networking. The week’s many social events, mixers and receptions provided hardworking professionals the opportunity to have a bit of fun. The black-tie CIM Awards Gala offered the industry a chance to recognize some of the outstanding achievements from its many champions. And, with over-the-top entertainment, the crowd stayed until the very end.

The following night, attendees and delegates broke out their dancing shoes at the Joy Global Gala, which featured an impressive fireworks display over Coal Harbour.

“Overall, the impression from everybody has been great,” said Patty Moore, as the convention wrapped-up its last day.

And next year’s event is poised to bring much of the same. The Expo! floor is already 90 per cent sold and the theme, “New Dimensions,” promises to engender huge discussion. CIM Convention 2015 will be held in Montreal, Quebec at the Palais de Congrès from May 9 to 13.

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