March/April 2009

Recipe for a successful Canadian Mining Games

Generosity of sponsors key to annual event

By R. Clarke

Participants from University of Alberta survey as part of a challenge.


  • 10 Teams
  • 120 Competitors
  • 23 Generous sponsoring companies
  • 21 Events
  • 3 Banquets
  • 1 Dedicated team of volunteers


  • Mix all ingredients together, stir vigorously, step back and enjoy.

An annual competition between ten Canadian universities, the Canadian Mining Games, showcase student talent in a series of 21 mining-related events. The games are held over three days during Reading Week and see 120 competitors vying for the title of Mining Games Champions.

The Canadian Mining Games began at McGill University in 1991 and take place annually as universities across Canada take turns hosting the event. This event is mining’s version of the NHL Top Prospects Game and is used by sponsors to network with future graduates and observe them interacting and competing with their peers. They offer a unique opportunity for sponsoring companies to meet 120 of the country’s most ambitious and intelligent mining engineering students at one venue, rather than having to travel to the ten individual universities represented.

I was fortunate enough to compete in the 17th annual Canadian Mining Games held in Montreal in February 2007. I had attended innumerable educational and sporting conferences, but never before had I experienced such an overwhelming sense of camaraderie and purpose. It was at this event — aided by a few beverages — that I first voiced interest in becoming involved if the event was ever held at the University of Toronto. Fulfilling the prophesy, I became the co-chair for the 19th annual Canadian Mining Games held at the University of Toronto from February 19-21, 2009.

One part perseverance, two parts pride

The Canadian Mining Games are the highlight of every future mining engineer’s calendar. They serve as a welcome opportunity to relax after midterm exams and reconnect with old acquaintances from previous work terms or mining games. They also reignite the long-standing rivalry between east and west for Mining Games superiority. The eastern schools — Dalhousie University, Université Laval, École Polytechnique, McGill University, Queen’s University, University of Toronto and Laurentian University — have traditionally won the majority of the competitions based on strong, historical education systems. However, this dominance ended in 2007 when the University of Alberta won its first of two consecutive Canadian Mining Games. The other two western teams — University of British Columbia and University of Saskatchewan — are also emerging as serious championship contenders.

Preparations for the Canadian Mining Games take months, with organization typically beginning in summer and universities picking their teams in September or early October. Long before the scheduled dates of the games, teams begin competing in the Stock Market Challenge, which usually runs for two months prior to the opening banquet. For the Games’ opening banquet, held in Hart House on the University of Toronto’s St. George Campus, teams arrived decked out in their university colours, eager to begin the competition. The banquet was sponsored exclusively by BHP Billiton Iron Ore and included a presentation by Simon Fleury, superintendent Area C, regarding the company’s Australian operations. BHP Billiton Iron Ore also provided the topic for, and judged, the oral presentation event. This year’s topic addressed how companies persevere through economic cycles.

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