August 2009

Sleuthing, cruising and teeing off

CIM’s Northern Gateway Branch uses a range of activities to raise awareness and rally support

By R. Slack


Based in North Bay, Ontario, the CIM Northern Gateway Branch has had a long and active history. Although there is no active mining in North Bay proper, the area has been a hub for mining service organizations since the early 1900’s when it was the marshalling area and supply point for the Cobalt silver rush. Today, North Bay is home to over 60 businesses that provide services to the Canadian and international mining industry.

Going strong

Having been quiescent for a few years, the branch was reinvigorated when Peter Balen of Atlas Copco rallied his peers to form a new group. Since that fateful barbeque in the summer of 2005 in Balen’s backyard, the branch has never looked back. In 2008, the group was presented the Mel W. Bartley Award at the CIM Awards Gala in Edmonton.

The members of the diverse branch executive come from the whole spectrum of the local industry. Their dedication is exemplary. Alex Speirs, one of the branch’s founding members, even came out of retirement to join the executive team.

A positive image

The branch is committed to promoting a positive image of the mining industry within the community, especially among students, by working with Nipissing University, Canadore College and local school boards. Our intention is not so much to recruit students into the industry as it is to inform the public of the importance of mining and the opportunities it offers to young people.

A number of our initiatives bring the industry to a more accurate light. One of the most effective has been the Mine Scene Investigation (MSI) show. This interactive dinner theatre for secondary students combines video with live acting and audience participation to “solve a mystery.” The audience reviews the “evidence” to determine what mining career a “missing person” has embarked on. Organized in conjunction with the North Bay Mining Association and supported by both Nipissing University and Canadore College, this event also includes campus tours.

Each year during mining week, the branch, in conjunction with the North Bay Mining Association, organizes unique interactive displays and activities for younger students. This year, we have implemented an award and scholarship program to increase awareness of the mining services industry in the area.

Good times

The group has hosted numerous popular social events including the annual golf tournament. Held on a workday, it attracts many members and guests who cherish the opportunity to get away from the confines of their office and network in the open air. Proceeds from the tournament support our scholarship programs. The branch also holds an annual Lake Nipissing Cruise, a delightful party on the water that uses the attractions of gourmet food and lively music to raise money for local charities. This year, the cruise’s proceeds will benefit the North Bay food bank.

The branch also believes in the power of collaborative endeavours. We recently joined the CIM Sudbury Branch to help it prepare for  staging the Maintenance Engineering/ Mine Operators Conference (MEMO 2010), to be held from October 25 to 27, 2010 in Sudbury.

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