Present and reporting for duty

Michael Winship has deep roots in CIM that reach as far as the late ‘70s, when he signed up as  a student member while completing his mining engineering bachelor’s degree at McGill University. His career in mining operations began at the rock face, it has led him around the world and into a few tight scrapes along the way. He has had executive roles at Rubicon, Orvana, Quadra FNX and Hudbay and generated a resume seasoned by successful ventures and hard choices. Now, he is taking the mantle of CIM president for the coming year. The CIM Reporter got hold of Winship in the lead up to #CIMBC2016 to learn a bit about the man and his mandate.

CIM: You’ve seen a lot of the world. Have there been times when you were afraid you might not make it back home?

MW: [Laughs] I’ve been caught up in a couple civil wars in DRC and Thailand. I’ve been arrested by the Tanzanian Army with an AK 47 at my head for being in the wrong place at the wrong time with a camera. There have been forced air landings in Bolivia and Papua New Guinea.

CIM: Wow. And so with all of these travels, is there a survival tip that bears repeating?

MW: Be sure to bring your own toilet paper. It isn’t always provided.

CIM: You have also weathered a few down cycles over your career. What lessons have you learned?

MW: I think the key is to keep an eye on the long-term and not panic in the short-term. The stronger people and the stronger companies will come through and be in a better position to capitalize on the upturn.  You have to be careful you don’t cut out things that will serve your business well in the longer term such as in investment technology, in people, in relations with the community and First Nations.

CIM: Why did you decide to take on the position of CIM President?

MW: The industry has been very good to me and my family, and we have gotten to see the world from a dozen different locations and I’ve had an exciting and interesting career. I see this as an opportunity to help pay something back to the industry.

CIM: What are the tasks before you?

MW: We are in difficult times and at a crisis point in terms of new graduates to the industry, and I’m afraid that we might lose another generation of skilled professionals because they can’t get employment.

I’d like to help promote the idea of mining companies hiring these people to work right in the mines, the mills, smelter and the pits, as we used to do. I worked as a cut and fill miner at the Beaver Lodge Mine in Uranium City and also, as a rock breaker, a pipe fitter - a lot of the underground roles including front line supervisor. It gave me a good foundation, not just in terms of skills but also working with people and understanding what motivates and demotivates the people working at the face who are so important to your business.

Membership will also require special focus. With the industry under stress we need to make sure CIM remains relevant. I also want to help support and promote the links between CIM Branches, CIM National and Members.

Another area is diversity. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some very talented ladies - the first female mill manager, the first female shift boss, the first female in mine rescue in Sudbury. I have tried, both informally and as a mentor, to integrate women into the mine, but it is still a real weakness in our industry.

Another key mission is to help rejuvenate a safety leadership group within CIM. People like Gord Winkel, Roy Slack, Vic Pakalnis, and Glenn Lyle are participating.