June/July 2011

Students take charge

Fourth CIM student chapter opens

By Marlene Eisner


Claudia Macedo, Fares Nasrallah, Stephen Coates and Gustavo Marquez

By all accounts, the launch of the CIM McGill Student Chapter was an unmitigated success. More than 100 students packed a room at the university’s Frank Dawson Adams building to hear guest speaker Bryan A. Coates, vice-president of finance and CFO at Osisko Mining Corporation, deliver a presentation entitled “Mining, more than tonnes, grade and recoveries: Challenges of modern mining operations.”

“We filled up the room, which is a great thing considering we were in the last week of school where everyone was stressed with exams,” says Stephen Coates, who, along with Fares Nasrallah, Gustavo Marquez and Claudia Macedo, organized the chapter’s inaugural event.

The CIM McGill Student Chapter is the fourth in Canada; the other three are at the University of Saskatchewan, Queen’s University and Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue (in Rouyn-Noranda). All are part of an initiative by CIM to create chapters in universities and colleges across the country. The goal is to provide networking opportunities for mining students and for students in other faculties to discover what the industry has to offer.

“The first one was launched in December 2009 in Saskatoon,” says CIM executive director Jean Vavrek. “Now that we have a full-blown membership department within CIM, we determined what we needed and we’re pretty well in full flight.” Vavrek attended the April 7 McGill chapter opening and says he was impressed with the turnout. “I thought it was a great event,” he says. “We really want the students to own this and, in the process, have them develop leadership skills and make some solid connections.”

Coates, 21, is a second-year mining engineering student and the son of Bryan Coates. Becoming involved in a CIM student chapter was a no-brainer for Coates, who comes from a mining family. He says a student chapter is good for networking opportunities, but it is also a good way for students from other faculties to learn more about mining.

“The first time I was able to get involved with people outside of mining was with a group of environmental students signing a petition for Bill C-300,” he says. “I sat down with them and said, ‘mining is not what you guys see in the press.’ There is something missing here to connect with these students.”

Nasrallah, 20, who came from France to study mining engineering, agrees that one of the main objectives of the student chapter is to educate other faculties about the realities and benefits of mining.

“The overall goal is reaching out to students from outside the mining and metallurgical circle. We want to involve more students from areas such as mechanical and chemical engineering, management, HR, humanities – there is a place for them in the industry.”

As the semester comes to a close, Nasrallah and Coates, along with a handful of other students, will start hammering out the details of the chapter. “We are still the interim committee,” says Nasrallah. “What we are planning to do over the summer is to discuss what has to be done, which is everything: the bylaws, structure, goals, plans, which events we want to have and how we are going to organize them.”

Marjolaine Dugas, CIM’s new director of membership, is thrilled to see so many students wanting to get involved with CIM. “Students are an important part of the sector and there is an opportunity for CIM to support their initiatives and help them build strong careers in this industry,” she says.

The future looks good, adds Vavrek, with lots of new territory to tap. “We are now looking into how we will proceed next year, with a potential 40 more chapters across Canada,” he says. “There is also an opportunity to have chapters outside of Canada where Canadian companies are operating. Except for the United States and Australia, there is no other place that has student chapters like we do, so if we don’t create them, they won’t happen.”

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