District Distinguished Service Award

For significant contribution to the mineral industry and CIM Branch

Origins & Conditions


At the instigation of W.M. Gilchrist, CIM President (1974-75), three District Distinguished Service Awards (Western, Central and Eastern District) were created to recognize the contributions on a District level of the many Institute members who have significantly contributed to the development of the industry and the Institute at their local or Branch level.

The District Distinguished Service Award criteria and other information

  1. The District Distinguished Service Awards are to be presented to Institute Members in each of the three geographical Districts (Western, Central and Eastern) described in the Institute By-Laws, in recognition of significant contribution to the mineral industry and the Institute in the area designated. The said contributions need not necessarily be of a particular or a special achievement or be related to a technical field of endeavour.
  2. The awards are to be available for presentation yearly, or as conditions warrant.
  3. Endorsements from the Branches' executives and VPs from the three Districts (one nomination by district) are required.
  4. All nominations shall be accompanied by a description of the personal achievement of the nominee.
  5. The candidate will be submitted to a Special Committee composed of the last three living Past Presidents and the current President who will convene the committee, the members will make their recommendations to the Chief Executive Officer.
  6. The Chief Executive Officer shall forward the nominations to CIM Council not later than the last Council Meeting held prior to the next CIM Convention.
  7. No member of the District Awards Committee shall be party to the nomination of any candidate.
  8. The Award shall be presented at the annual CIM Convention, or at some especially arranged official ceremony in the District.
  9. All nominations properly presented shall remain in good standing for a period of three (3) years unless formally withdrawn over the signatures of a majority of members responsible for the nomination.



Alex Speirs

Alex Speirs has enjoyed a long and storied career in the Canadian mining industry. Immigrating to Canada in the early 60s, he worked at mines in northern Quebec. Later, as an executive, he helped develop the Redpath Group into one of the premier mine contracting companies in the world. Most notably, he was involved in much of the early Arctic work the company carried out, including projects in Greenland. He was also a driving force for Redpath to go international, with notable projects such as at Freeport Indonesia which continue to this day.

After his first retirement in the early 90s, Speirs enjoyed a ten-year consulting career, initially with Kvaerner Metals Davy (Toronto) and later in support of Diavik Diamond Mines (Rio Tinto) to establish what is today the Diavik Mine. His experience in Arctic work played a key role in the early life of this project. During his consulting career, Alex became one of the few foreigners to be awarded a membership in the Russian Academy of Mining Sciences.

As a long-term member and supporter of CIM, Speirs was a founding member of the Northern Gateway Branch in North Bay.  Through his and others’ efforts, the branch became a strong, viable voice for the mining industry in the district. His industry experience, coupled with his energy and enthusiasm, were important in moving the Northern Gateway branch forward.  In 2008, the branch won the Mel W. Bartley Outstanding Branch Award and is still very active today.


Michel Robinson

Michel Robinson obtained his diploma in mining engineering at Laval University in 1972 and in business administration with a finance option in 1986 at the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi. His career began in surface mining for Arcelor Mittal (formerly QCM) in Gagnon, and for the Asbestos Corporation in Thetford Mines. He continued in underground mining for Teck Corporation at the Silverfields mine in Cobalt, Ontario, and Niobec, Quebec as facility manager. He has served on the boards of directors of the Association minière du Québec and of the Association paritaire pour la santé et la sécurité du travail du secteur minier (APSM).

Robinson ended his career with Hydro Quebec as responsible for monitoring dykes and dams and civil engineering structures in the large territory of James Bay, Abitibi Témiscamingue and the Saguenay region. He participated in the activities of the CIM  Saguenay Branch, but was mainly active in the Quebec Branch, serving as treasurer until recently. Promoting the mining sector to students has always been at the heart of the Quebec Branch's priorities. Robinson is a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec.