June/July 2009

Where everybody knows your name

One of CIM’s most active branches is also one of its friendliest and warmest

By R. Pillo

CIM Newfoundland Branch members with Olympic Curling champion Brad Gushue at the Curling Bonspiel


Anyone who has travelled to Newfoundland and Labrador can attest that the climate and terrain on “The Rock” can be downright unforgiving. Its people, on the other hand, are famously hospitable. The CIM Newfoundland Branch in St. John’s, for example, is home to the most generous, spirited and welcoming CIMers. The branch won the prestigious Mel Bartley Award this year.

Lasting opportunities

The branch’s annual meeting, famed for its down-home hospitality, is part of the Minerals Resources Review, an important industry event that has drawn delegates and exhibitors for over 50 years. “Delegates appreciate the unpretentious atmosphere,” said Lawson Dickson, a member of the organizing committee. “It’s like coming home.”

Minerals Resources Review has long been Newfoundland’s preeminent mining and mineral exploration conference and tradeshow. In recent years, it has also become the largest mining show in Atlantic Canada, attracting over 600 delegates in 2008 alone. This year, the conference will be held at at the Delta St. John’s Hotel, from November 5 to 7, 2009. It is shaping up to be another impressive event, with a three-day technical program featuring industry, government and Aboriginal leaders discussing the latest in human resources, exploration, mining projects and advances in mineral processing. In addition, pre-conference short courses will offer valuable insights to geologists and prospectors. Guests will be treated to local customs like the traditional Newfoundland Kitchen Party and the Curling Bonspiel.

Lasting commitment

It was on February 12 and 13, 1953, that the Newfoundland group held its first meeting at Frost’s Restaurant in St. John’s. Braving difficult travel conditions, delegates from all over the then four-year-old province flocked to St. John’s to hear Premier Joey Smallwood’s opening presentation.

Branch status was granted to the group by CIM National in 1954 and its new executive organized the first official annual meeting on the first weekend of November that year. The branch has organized meetings every year, without missing a beat, ever since.

For over 30 years, the Mines Branch of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Natural Resources has been involved with the conference, organizing a full day of pre-conference poster sessions and presentations on current research and prospecting information. “Both organizations benefitted greatly from this partnership. The conference has gained more exposure and expanded its sessions to provide targeted value and information, encompassing all the various elements of the industry,” said Norm Mercer, Mines Branch representative on the organizing committee. In recent years, the Mines Branch and the CIM Newfoundland Branch have combined their efforts and rebranded the meeting into what is now known as the Minerals Resources Review.

Lasting impressions

Providing support for the next generation of industry professionals is a key priority for the Newfoundland Branch. Each year, it awards up to $5,000 in scholarships and bursaries to local college and university students. The branch also donates to other organizations like the Alexander Murray Geology Club at Memorial University and the Matty Mitchell Prospectors Resource Room. Securing student involvement has not been difficult because, as Dickson said, “students are eager to get involved.” This year, the branch has partnered with the Geological Survey of Newfoundland and Labrador to purchase, prepare and distribute new rock and mineral teaching kits to the province’s schools.

In 2008, the branch tracked down its last surviving founding member, Edward M. (Obbie) Martin, who had just turned 101. A small reception was held in his honour at his convalescent home where, in front of family and friends, he received an Honorary Membership, the branch’s highest honour. As Dickson observed, “You never really leave the branch.” Getting to a place that is sometimes referred to as the “edge of the earth” is in fact quite easy; it’s leaving that is hard. The CIM Newfoundland Branch and its people stay with you long after you leave them.

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