March/April 2013

Centre of the action

CIM Montreal Branch is always looking ahead

By Correy Baldwin


From left: Ian Turner, Dany Belanger, Hani Mitri, Lise Chartrand. Missing: Martin Poirier | Courtesy of the CIM Montreal Branch

As an important hub for the Canadian mining industry, Montreal is home not only to mining head offices but also to leading academic institutions and large financial firms. The CIM Montreal Branch recognizes this and takes advantage of that fact by engaging with financial, political and educational organizations to address the present and future needs of a diverse and dynamic mining membership. “Some people are looking to connect not just to the operations aspect of the mining business but to the financial aspect as well,” says past-chair Martin Poirier. “We want to cover different aspects of the business.”

Traditionally, the branch has been more involved on the operational side. “The presentations we have hosted focused on providing a project overview of new mining and exploration projects happening in Canada,” explains Hani Mitri, branch chair. According to Mitri, most presentations set up by the branch address the technical and economic aspects of the operations and are geared to inform students and industry about opportunities in Canada. But, branch executives are looking to expand the horizons. The challenge – and a goal of the coming year – is to continue providing members with these important opportunities, while also diversifying to meet new needs, interests and changing directions in the industry.

“We are focusing on sustainable development,” says Mitri. “Our January speaker, Stephen Kibsey, vice-president of equities and hedge fund risk management at Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, covered sustainability risks in mining in his presentation, “Winds of change: how the investor is trying to account for sustainability risks in the resource sector.” Sustainability has become a central preoccupation for everyone connected with the industry, says Mitri. “We are working on building an awareness of the importance of developing sustainable mining projects and accounting for risks,” he explains. “Today, investors must look into the social and environmental impacts of projects and translate this information into a quantitative risk assessment.”

The branch is also active in promoting and in organizing local and international events. This year, branch executives are heavily involved in both the leadership and organization of the World Mining Congress (WMC), to be held in Montreal this August. Ferri Hassani, a member of the branch executive, is chairing the event, and the branch is sponsoring student activities. “We are pleased to support students in Montreal by giving them a global networking opportunity,” says Mitri.

Students are a major focus of the CIM Montreal Branch. The branch has close connections to McGill University and École Polytechnique, both of which offer mining engineering co-op programs that are promoted by the branch. Further, it provided a $5,000 sponsorship to the schools’ teams participating in the Canadian Mining Games, held in Montreal this year. Students make up around 200 of the branch’s 500 members.

The branch also puts on an annual auction hosted by Mac Watson, branch executive member, and his wife Rena. The auction raises funds for undergraduate student scholarships at McGill and École Polytechnique. “This is a very popular event,” says Mitri. “It is a 40-year-old tradition of the CIM Montreal Branch and generates well over $2,000 each year.”

Last year, the Montreal branch approved the transfer of $100,000 into a securities fund to be managed by the Canadian Mining and Metallurgical Foundation (CMMF). The funds will be used to generate two scholarships, each worth $1,750, for students in mining engineering and geology programs in Quebec. René Dufour, a Montreal branch executive member, is a founding member of CMMF, which was incorporated in 1972.

“The branch’s national initiatives – from our involvement with WMC to our sponsorship of the Mining Games – are motivated in part by our mandate to strengthen ties with other CIM branches,” says Ian Turner, branch treasurer. “There is a lot happening in Montreal and it is important for our branch to serve as a bastion for the eastern side. We are well-situated to foster sharing of knowledge and of other resources with the Maritimes, which will help build a stronger national industry.”

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