People, innovation the “new normal” in mining – by Ella Myers (Northern Ontario Business – October 19, 2016)

Pragmatism, innovation, and people dominated the early discussions at the Maintenance, Engineering and Reliability/Mine Operations Conference (MeMO) in Sudbury, Oct. 17. The heads of Sudbury’s three leading mine operations led off the first session of the two-day conference, discussing how to lead and manage in a volatile economy.

The conference brings together mine operators to share information on reducing costs and increasing productivity and improving safety and reliability in mining. It is run by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).

Rather than focusing on optimistic predictions of when the current downturn will end, the panelists focused on how they are adapting to the low nickel prices and demand, by driving for innovation and maximizing the potential of people at their companies.

“There was nothing in what people talked about in metal markets that was optimistic,” said moderator Bruce Jago, the executive director of the Goodman School of Mines at Laurentian University. “Until they chew away at that nickel surplus… the price is going to go nowhere.”

“Things haven’t been this bad, this long, in decades” echoed Stuart Harshaw, vice-president of Vale’s Ontario operations.

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