May 2009

Bridging the gap

Major donation to sustain professional development

By R. Bergen

Civil engineer Scott McIntosh has made a very good career of solving problems. Ever since he took his first job 34 years ago at a Colorado molybdenum mine, he has done his part to help make things work better and more efficiently.

McIntosh, the man behind McIntosh Engineering, donated $750,000 to strengthen the Canadian Mining and Metallurgy Foundation (CMMF) and help it ensure that the mining industry can attract and develop its most valuable resource — future generations of well-trained professionals. The donation was made possible due to the acquisition of McIntosh Engineering by Stantec last year, and is a portion of the $2 million McIntosh made available to the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) in the United States, CMMF, as well as schools on both sides of the border.

“The initial idea for the fund,” explained McIntosh, “came about early last year when the industry was growing at an incredible rate and mining companies around the world were wondering, ‘Oh my gosh, where are we going to get the people to engineer, build and operate these mines that are trying to come on stream?’ The urgency of the issue has changed, but with any sort of a long-term perspective, I’m absolutely convinced there is a need for more rather than fewer young professionals to come into this business.”

Thanks to the generosity of CIM members and others, the Canadian Mining and Metallurgical Foundation, administered by a board of trustees, funds programs aimed at supporting professional development and raising public awareness about the industry and the spectrum of career opportunities it offers.

Like any who have sustained a career in the industry, McIntosh has endured slumps that have scared people away in the past. The demand for metals and minerals returns, but the hard times leave a legacy. “During the past down cycles, mining schools across North America closed; the attendance level at mining schools has been poor and that’s what put us in the difficult position over the last three years. There just weren’t people out there because so many had been driven away from the industry.”

McIntosh acknowledged that in relation to the scale of the problem, his donation represents a “drop in the bucket,” but he hopes the money will help maintain the educational infrastructure during slow times, and he challenged others to keep an eye on the horizon. “Anyone interested in the future of our business — the mining companies in particular — needs to do more rather than less to invest in the future.”

Born and raised in the United States, McIntosh joined the Ontario-based Redpath Group in the late 1970s. He named Jim Redpath, group founder, as his professional mentor. McIntosh later spun off the engineering division of Redpath as McIntosh Engineering, which specialized in underground mining. He has lived in North Bay, Ontario, and has broad professional and personal connections to Canada, a country that, he insists, runs in his blood.

He turned to CIM for help in administering the funds because it has a strong presence and a solid history. “CIM is a respected organization with a national reach that for decades has been dedicated to the mining industry. And the CMMF is a great organization to focus the efforts aimed at developing the industry.”

Though the sector has experienced ups and down, McIntosh, now the vice president of Stantec Mining, said his life in mining has offered steady rewards and he seems a ready mentor, himself. “There are opportunities for anyone who has the bug to travel around the world, and there are plenty of opportunities for somebody who wants to stay in one place and raise a family. It is a tremendously rewarding career.”

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