February 2006

President's notes

Productivity and innovation are driving industry

By R. Hallbauer

Productivity and innovation have been key words in many financial and business column bylines in Canada’s major newspapers as Canadian industries battle rising competition and a strengthening Canadian dollar. Furthermore, productivity and innovation have been a driving force for the Canadian minerals industry for the past two decades as we faced real price decreases for the value of our products.

The innovations in underground and open pit mining methods, oil sands recovery, refining, smelting, and processing technologies, as well as the work of Canadian universities on the advancement of new materials for use in all industries, have been important factors in allowing ourselves to be positioned to take advantage of the worldwide economic boom well before productivity and innovation became newspaper headlines.

The foresight of our industry to continue to support ongoing productivity and innovation, as we struggled to stay profitable, is a testament to the underlying strength of the minerals industry in this country.

With interest rates low and cash available for reinvestment, all facets of the industry are benefiting. New equipment is being purchased for facility upgrades, new sponsorships for university R&D are being granted across a wide spectrum of disciplines, and added support is being given to education and training. These are but a few of the many areas building on the industry’s already strong record of capturing productivity improvements through ongoing innovation and research.

CIM members are playing a key role in these areas as our breadth of membership transcends much more than our name applies. The influence of academia, industry, and government on CIM Council, as well as the divisions and societies that make up CIM, have allowed the Institute to encourage productivity and innovation well before these words became the basis of speeches and columns, as technical knowledge transfer is one of basic tenements of CIM’s vision and its constitution.

No other organization that serves the minerals industry in Canada is better positioned to support the message and provide the backdrop that innovation is the key to the long-term future of our industry.

As CIM continues to evolve, it is important for all people from across the wide spectrum of our membership base to remember that as one voice we speak to the technical innovation and, by inference, the productivity debate that is so prevalent today. We alone stand out among our peer associations in helping ensure that we do more than just talk about it.

Russell Hallbauer, CIM President

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