Dec '15/Jan '16

President's notes

A call to action

By Garth Kirkham

Garth KirkhamThis fall we had what has become fairly typical of elections in Canada: what I call an inversion. I define this as voting the ruling party out in favour of the most reasonable alternative, or even out of spite. I am heartened though that the collective decision was one based on values, rather than purely a “vote the bums out” attitude. The mining industry is thought to be a “conservative” bunch, however I look at the platform put forward by the new Liberal government and they seem to be very much in line with the values of the Canadian mining industry today. These include diversity, environmental stewardship, prosperity for all, building infrastructure for future generations, sustainable development and international leadership, especially in struggling regions with great potential but in need of guidance.

Miners have long embraced these values as a necessity of doing business and Canadian mining companies have, time and again, brought knowledge, financing, leadership and best practices to the countries in which they work, especially in areas where they are trying to build a foundation for growth.

At the forefront of development, miners sometimes find themselves in regions where conflict is smoldering just beneath the surface. In Mali, three of our colleagues working in the industry were at that Radisson in Bamako when terrorists stormed the hotel. Thankfully they survived.

That two of those trapped in the hotel, sending anxious texts to family and colleagues back home, were there to oversee the construction of a mine in a young and expanding mining region is significant. Such places are at a crossroads, where foreign investment and local capacity building may lead the country in one direction while fanatics with delusions of medieval grandeur want to push it the opposite way. From this perspective, best practices in safety, environmental stewardship, diversity, and financial and social responsibility are particularly important. It is our responsibility to live these values wherever we may be. While I do not want to overinflate our role, I think it would be much more foolish to underestimate it.

May you all have a safe and prosperous 2016.

Garth Kirkham
CIM President

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