March/April 2014

CIM news from Canada and beyond

The pioneer spirit

Maureen JensenMaureen Jensen started her career 35 years ago as an exploration geologist, then moved up to president and CEO of Noble Peak Resources, before crossing over to the regulations side to collaborate on what would ultimately become NI 43-101. She is currently executive director of Canada’s largest securities regulator, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC). Jensen recently received the Women in Mining Trailblazer Award and CIM Magazine had a chance to speak with her to learn where she thinks the industry is headed.

CIM: Congratulations on the Trailblazer Award.

Jensen: This is quite something for me. I’m not really in mining anymore, so it is fantastic, but of course, I’m still very involved. I’m absolutely thrilled to get it, especially when I was nominated by some people that I mentored early on.

CIM What advice do you give young professionals?

Jensen: Don’t think of your career as very narrow. Try different options and look around at the people that you’re working with who you admire and find out how they got to where they are. Look for mentors, somebody who will really have your back and try and help you make some tough decisions as you move forward. I don’t think there’s one perfect career. The best thing to do is to be thoughtful about it and try new opportunities.

CIM : The OSC has recently proposed regulations that would make its listed companies report on their board nomination and senior management hiring processes. How did that come about?

Jensen: The Ontario budget came out last May and it noted that we really wanted to have more women in executive positions. This is about the health of the Ontario economy. Canada, out of all of the developed nations, is really lagging in the number of women on boards of directors, so the government asked us to do something about it, and we decided that we would put forward a proposal for a rule that says that companies, through their governance – and this would be their reporting in the proxy season – have to report the number of women on their board and in senior management and what policies they have, if any, to encourage gender diversity.

CIM : What are some of the barriers that women still face in the mining world?

Jensen: Let’s talk about the tangibles. First of all, there are fewer women in the business than men. But that’s changing. Who’s graduating out of school these days, whether you’re looking at HR, geology, engineering, is 50:50 (men and women). There is also a bit of a culture in the mining industry, and in all industries, that women are not as committed because they have families and other things in their lives. Personally, I think that’s ridiculous and it’s an old way of thinking. What you want in your firm, regardless of if it’s a mining company or a bank, are people who are completely committed to the success of the organization and they can come in all shapes and sizes.

Have we seen a change? I will tell you the change that I’ve seen is the amount of people that are talking about it. It’s just amazing. We, in the mining industry, are faced with a real difficulty of having the right experienced people in the pipeline as we move forward. The baby boomers are going to retire and we need to keep companies operating. From a regulatory perspective, and from a perspective of a province, we need to make sure that corporate Canada is healthy. The only way that we’re going to find enough people who are talented and have the right skills is to look broader than just one gender.

Opening up opportunities at Franco-Mine 2014

International Trade Minister Ed Fast signs a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with Cameroon’s Economy and National Planning Minister Nganou Djoumessi. Fast also announced the commencement of FIPA negotiations with Kenya | David W. Dorken

More than 120 government and industry representatives discussed mining opportunities and shared challenges in Francophone Africa at Franco-Mine 2014 hosted by CIM during the PDAC Convention.

Franco-Mine 2014 counted delegations from Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal, Mauritania, Gabon, Niger, Egypt, and Congo, and included the signing of a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between Canada and Cameroon. Emmanuel Bonde, Cameroon’s mines minister, said the mining sector will be the “motor” of the country’s economic development. Despite its potential, he said, roughly 60 per cent of the country is underexplored. Bonde highlighted the government’s recent partnership with the World Bank to conduct an airborne geophysical survey for 20 per cent of the country, as an example of Cameroon’s commitment to growing the sector.

McEwen matters

Rob McEwen and Alicia FerdinandAlicia Ferdinand, CIM Toronto Branch chair, left, presents Mining CEO Rob McEwen with a certificate of appreciation following a lunch presentation that he gave to branch members in December. The branch made a donation to “Mining Matters” on behalf of McEwen. Photo courtesy of CIM Toronto Branch

Cooperation key with new Canadian REE network

The Canadian Rare Earth Elements Network (CREEN) has a lofty goal: to have Canada produce 20 per cent of the world's separated rare earth elements by 2018. This is indeed ambitious considering Canada currently has no producing rare earth mines. To make this happen, the network, an industry-led initiative launched at the 2013 Conference of Metallurgists in Montreal, is looking to pool talent and resources together to overcome some of the biggest hurdles for kick-starting rare earth production in Canada.

Ian London, CREEN chair, said the spirit of the network is to get competing juniors to work together on cracking pre-competitive technologies that will reduce capital and operating costs for all potential producers. “None of the majors are involved in rare earth mining or processing,” he said. “Most of the juniors don’t naturally collaborate well. But it was clear, especially with the softening of some of the financial markets, there were a number of shared problems.” Rare earth elements are notoriously difficult to separate and process, as each deposit’s mineralogy is unique.

The network – in collaboration with governments, end-users (like General Electric) and academia – has prioritized roughly a dozen projects, including research into specific separation, processing and chemical reagent processes. The network is looking to build membership and will be presenting at the CIM Convention in Vancouver in May.

CIM Toronto leads “student friendly” tour

For the uninitiated, the PDAC Convention can seem like a swirling vortex of suits – people pushing and promoting projects, products and potential profits from every booth, room and lounge at the Toronto Convention Centre. Navigating this environment can be intimidating, especially when it is your first time or when you are not here to talk business.

With this in mind, the CIM Toronto Branch, along with PDAC, organized trade show tours, bringing students face to face with self-identified “student-friendly” companies. The branch put on five guided tours, giving students the opportunity to meet with a variety of mining and service companies as well as government departments.

“The impression is these people bark,” said Rick Hutson, CIM Toronto Branch volunteer and Central District vice-president, “but they’re actually really nice people.” Registration for the first three tours was nearly full, with roughly 20 students participating in each. The guided tours made eight stops, giving students around 10 minutes to chat with company representatives. “It helps students find their way around here,” said Hutson.

First-time PDAC attendee Ben Lee, a master’s student at the University of Alberta specializing in electromagnetic methods in geophysics, said he came to the convention, in part, to start networking: “I definitely talked to some people that I would not have otherwise, since there are just so many different companies out there.”

Northern Gateway mixes it up

The Canadore College Trades Trailer | Courtesy of Paul Chivers

The promise of seafood and jazz brought out roughly 200 North Bay residents to the CIM Northern Gateway Branch’s fifth annual CIM Seafood Mixer. Paul Chivers, branch volunteer, said the event is one of two major branch fundraisers, with funds supporting many initiatives in the region designed to educate the public and particularly young people about the mining industry. “The chapter runs courses at the Canadian Ecology Centre near Mattawa, during which we bring teachers into local mines to dispel myths and show them how important our industry is to the well-being of all,” said Chivers. He added that the money also goes to supporting the Canadore College Trades Trailer, which “travels around Ontario to introduce trades and jobs to young people in various communities.”

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