June/July 2015

The flagship for a new era

Compiled by Ryan Bergen | Graphic layout by Jocelyn Renaud

No organization will live to complete an entire century without a knack for the art of reinvention. CIM was facing an existential crisis in the early 2000s as membership was waning and engagement had dropped. For the Institute, founded in 1898, it was likely not the first time it had reached a crossroads. “We had to turn things around,” reflected Jean Vavrek CIM’s executive director. Retiring the existing CIM Bulletin, a combination of newsletter and technical journal, and launching CIM Magazine, with news and features, was an essential part of that turnaround.

Looking back, “the days were long, but it was fun,” said Heather Ednie, the magazine’s first editor-in-chief, who is now managing director of the Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group and counted by Women in Mining UK among the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining. She dubbed the magazine launch: “The biggest arts and crafts project I ever had.”

A look back at some of the operations and issues from 2006

Cominco 1906Teck Resources celebrated the centennial of its Cominco operations in Trail, British Columbia. In 1906 the St. Eugene, Centre Star, and War Eagle mines, the Rossland Power Company and the Canadian Smelting Works were combined to create the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada, which included the world’s first electrolytic lead refinery, built in 1902.

HudBay Mineral’s flagship 777 copper-zinc mine was aiming to reach its design capacity of 1.35 million tonnes within the year. The $435-million project included expansion of the nearby Flin Flon concentrator.

Expansion at Elk Valley Coal’s Fording River operations brought production capacity up to 10.5 from 9.3 million tonnes.

“If you want to be successful, you need world-class equipment,
you need to use it in a productive manner,
and your workforce has to work together
to improve the way you operate.”

- Iron Ore Company of Canada President & CEO Terry Bowles
as the company entered its fifth decade of operations
Terry Bowles

Shut down for a decade, Aurizon Mine’s Casa Berardi gold mine re-entered production in December 2006 after earlier exploration drilling added enough reserves to justify sinking a shaft to replace the existing ramp access. The feasibility study for the development project assumed a gold price of US$500 per ounce.

Agnico-Eagle Mines was hard at work to achieve its goal of producing 750,000 ounces by 2009. The $210-million LaRonde II project, begun in May 2006 was just one of three major development projects the company had on the go in Quebec. The Lapa and Goldex projects, each scheduled to enter production in 2008, were well underway.

Ramping up in the oil patch

Syncrude retired the last of its draglines working the oil sands. The company also expanded throughput at its Aurora mine by adding another production system including two P&H 4100 cab shovels, 15 Cat 797 haul trucks, support equipment, a crusher and a hydrotransport system.

Canadian Natural Resources Limited expected 6,000 people at work on its Horizon project. The company spotted a lull in the cons-truction industry and so added $400 million of the 2007 capital spending budget to 2006 to take advantage of the opportunity.

Suncor completed its Steepbank mine. Anne Marie Toutant, the company’s mining VP, estimated mining operations would move roughly 340 million tonnes of material. Operations added a cable shovel to make an even dozen P&H4100s scooping up the black gold and added nine more Cat 797B haul trucks to its existing fleet of 60. “There’s never a dull year,” said Toutant. “It’s very exciting work, I’m having a lot of fun.”

At issue

The new regime

What, wondered the late MAC vice-president Paul Stothart in his regular column, would the new Conservative minority government’s strategy be for environmental issues, and climate change in particular? He noted that the prime minister had said the new government policy would start “from scratch” while his environment minister had declared the government would adhere to the Kyoto Protocol. “Many industry groups in Ottawa are presently trying to determine what these conflicting statements may mean for the future of the Large Final Emitters process and other initiatives.”

The HR crisis, of course

CIM Magazine cover August 2006  “Mining and petroleum companies are healthy,” observed MiHR’s Ryan Montpellier, “shareholders are reaping record profits, and employment in these sectors is growing and becoming more competitive.” Playing defence against other potential employers looking to poach staff was not a viable solution, he argued. “The only real sustainable competitive advantage in this type of climate is to position your company as the right place to work for the kind of people you want.”

Metal prices: A 10-year roller coaster ride

Metal prices: a 10-year roller coaster ride

Life lessons from 2006 scholarship winner Jonathan Gagné

Jonathan Gagné 20062006

Back in 2006, when CIM Magazine first spoke to Jonathan Gagné, he was a third-year mining engineering student at École Polytechnique de Montréal and the latest recipient of the Cana­dian Mining and Metallurgical Foundation Arthur W. Foley scholarship. Today, he is only a few weeks into his latest post as a senior mining engineer in the technical services department at Glencore Zinc after four-year stints at both Agnico-Eagle Mines and SGS Canada.

While still a student he advised those coming after him to make full use of the co-op programs available and to get busy making contacts. So we reconnected with Jonathan to ask what the intervening years have shown him.

Jonathan Gagné present dayToday

CIM: After your years in the business what would you add to your earlier advice for up-and-coming engineers?

Gagné: I would certainly recommend that new graduates put on their boots and go work in the field since it is where the real training begins. You do not understand what a mine is in the lecture hall. Start at the bottom, take the time to really learn the concepts, obtain people’s trust and slowly make your way to the top. I would also add to start interacting with other departments such as geology, processing and maintenance as soon as possible. You will find precious additional knowledge that will help you see the overall picture of what mining is.

CIM: Were there any mistakes you made early on in your career that might be helpful for those who are trying to get started?

Gagné: My first mistake was trying to “fast track” my career. I wanted to climb the ladder too fast and I put too much pressure on myself. I didn’t fully understand all the knowledge that I had to soak up or the importance of experience. It might be cliché, but I would certainly recommend new grads learn how to walk before trying to run.

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