MES 50th anniversary


CIM’s Management & Economics Society turns 50

Celebrating a half century of support for education and professional development in the field of mineral economics

By Jane Spooner - 04 July 2024

ABOVE: The 7th Mineral Economics Symposium held in Toronto in January 1992. The symposium committee (left to right) Steven Lu, Bruce Jamieson, Steve Kelly, Bernie Haystead, Jane Spooner, Robert Halupka, Mike Jalonen and Bruce Burton | Courtesy of Jane Spooner

This year, CIM's Management and Economics Society (MES) celebrates its 50th anniversary. 

Initially named the Mineral Economics Committee, and approved by CIM Council on July 12, 1974, it was the brainchild of Robert Bruce Elver of the Mineral Resources Division of the federal Department of Mines and Technical Surveys in Ottawa. Elver recognized the potential impacts of events such as the recent nationalization of mining operations in several international jurisdictions, the 1972 publication of “The Limits to Growth” report and the 1973 oil crisis on the use and development of Canada’s mineral resources. Elver proposed to Council that the Institute should provide a forum for debate on these issues. 

“Never before have the issues of mineral policy and the many questions pertaining to how mineral resources should be privately or publicly managed been the subject of such widespread political debate, both within and outside Canada,” said Elver in his proposal, as reported in the September 1974 CIM Bulletin. “At the same time, there is a dearth of information and analysis relative to [the] changing needs for understanding and resolving the issues underlying mineral policy.”

By the second half of the 1970s, papers relating to mineral economics appeared regularly in the CIM Bulletin, including a debate on mineral resource and reserve classification, and an examination of mineral resource taxation. Starting in 1979, the committee regularly hosted technical sessions at CIM’s annual convention. 

After nearly 20 years of active participation in CIM events and initiatives, the Mineral Economics Committee became a full-fledged society in 1992. Then, in the early 2000s, CIM recognized that members who were active within the mining industry—but who did not work in a technical capacity—needed a society that would formally encompass their interests. Accordingly, in 2004, the name of the Mineral Economics Society was changed to the Management and Economics Society. 

Education and professional development

The objectives of the committee, and then the society, evolved over the decades but have always focused on education and professional development in the field of mineral economics. Support for the teaching of mineral economics at Canadian universities was initiated early in the committee’s history. Fundraising took place by means of a series of standalone Mineral Economics Symposia held in Toronto and Vancouver between 1980 and 2003. Themes and topics were forward looking, informative and thought provoking. Speakers who were experts in their fields openly shared their insights and experiences with audiences that ranged from senior industry leaders to students.

Annual student days (now hosted jointly with the CIM Toronto Branch) have included workshops, career showcases, networking seminars and “fireside chats” with industry professionals. MES has awarded several one-time scholarships and also administers a scholarship funded by the COSMO Mining Industry Consortium; recipients have come from across Canada.

In 2008, MES was asked by CIM to develop an event to anchor the final day of the annual convention which, traditionally, was less well attended. In response, the society hosted “Management and Finance Day” over the following 10 years. Time was included for moderated panel discussions to allow audience participation and interaction with the speakers. By 2018, the objective to boost attendance had been fulfilled and a standalone program was no longer needed at the annual convention.

In 2014, MES and the CIM Toronto Branch jointly established the annual Rocks & Stocks Professional Development Series, in part to provide a mineral economics focused event in Toronto. This event continues with open seminar-style presentations and discussion.

Standards of professional practice

In 1991, CIM requested that MES form a Special Committee on Reserve Definitions. The Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves (the JORC Code) had been published two years earlier and CIM was well-placed to support a similar initiative in Canada. The report of the Committee was published in October 1994. 

In August 2000, the CIM Definition Standards on Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves came into being. This was particularly significant in light of the fraud perpetrated by Bre-X Minerals that was discovered in 1997, which prompted the formation of the Mining Standards Task Force. One of the task force’s recommendations was that the CIM Guidelines for the Estimation, Classification and Reporting of Resources and Reserves should be incorporated by reference in National Instrument 43-101, which came into effect on Feb. 1, 2001. The CIM Definition Standards are revised and updated periodically. 

The Mineral Property Valuation Committee (CIMVAL) was struck in May 1999 to recommend standards and guidelines for the valuation of mineral properties to be used by the mining industry in general, and to be adopted by Canadian securities regulators and Canadian stock exchanges. After industry consultation, the CIMVAL Standards and Guidelines (Final Version) was adopted by Council in March 2003. It was superseded by the CIMVAL Code for the Valuation of Mineral Properties in 2019. 

The Robert Elver Award

The CIM Robert Elver Award in Mineral Economics, set up by MES shortly after the untimely death of Elver in 1979, annually recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the field. In 2024, to mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of MES, Elver himself became an honorary recipient. The award acknowledges Elver’s contributions to mineral economics in Canada and his foresight in proposing that CIM provide a forum for broader discussion and debate on these issues, which are no less critical today.