June/July 2011

Innovation

CMIC activities: a progress report

By Tom Hynes

In its effort to address the long-term research needs of the Canadian mining industry, the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC) has been making significant progress recently on a number of fronts.

CMIC’s six main technical initiatives are led by high-level mining company representatives, who are supported by a committee that is comprised of industry, government and research community representatives. This professional diversity ensures that emphasis is placed on the areas that companies deem critical to their financial success and on their commitments to safety and the environment. Subsequent engagement with academia and other stakeholders will further define what research is required, leading to specific research projects.

CMIC Inititiatives

Exploration

The CMIC Exploration Initiative is currently the most advanced of the programs. It is being implemented by the Exploration Initiative Consortium: a group of 21 companies, PDAC and the Geological Society of Canada. This past year, the group has worked on reaching a consensus about what the top priorities for mining exploration are, and they are now in the process of deciding on specific projects to implement.

Mining, Processing and Energy

The CMIC Mining Initiative will address three main areas of research: underground hard rock mining, soft rock mining and surface mining.

The CMIC Processing Initiative will consider three cross-cutting areas of research: crushing and grinding, water use and recycling, and northern engineering issues. Commodity-specific needs for gold, uranium, base metals, etc. will also be evaluated.

The CMIC Energy Initiative’s mandate has yet to be determined, but it will likely include aspects of energy efficiency, alternate fuels and technologies, and demand management. In addition to focusing on operations, this committee will likely involve representation from major hydro suppliers. The champion for this initiative is John Thompson, vice-president of technology at Teck Resources Limited.

These three initiatives are in the process of forming their committees. Their first meetings were held during the CIM Conference & Exhibition 2011 in in May.

Sustainable Mining and Tailings

The CMIC Sustainable Mining Initiative will focus on the environmental issues of mining and will work with NRCan’s Green Mining Initiative (GMI) group. It will build on the work GMI has done by expanding to include research from academia and other research institutions.

The CMIC Tailings Initiative will liaise with the research efforts of the Oil Sands Tailings Consortium (a CMIC member) to share relevant information across both programs.

At the time of writing this article, discussions were underway with potential champions for both of these initiatives.

Highly Qualified People

CMIC has not yet determined its role in the recruitment of Highly Qualified People (HQP). The traditional response to the labour shortage problem has been to recruit professionals from other countries; however, as Australia, the United States, Chile and others are in the same situation, a new plan is needed. We are collaborating with the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) to determine where we can be of most help.

For the past several years, CMIC has subsidized the hiring of students for summer work terms in mining-related research in an effort to try to keep students in mining programs, but this may or may not be the best use of our funds. We are reviewing this for next year.

CMIC Website

Our communication and branding committee, led by Will Westgate of 3M, with considerable assistance from Angela Hamlyn and Rosy Saadeh of CIM and from Michel Plouffe of NRCan, has now put in place our new website. It is still under construction in certain areas, but is otherwise fully operational. Please visit us at www.cmic-ccim.org.


Tom Hynes
Tom Hynes has worked in the uranium and base metals industries, and has been a provincial regulator and a federal government research manager. He is the executive director of the Canada Mining Innovation Council.

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