ONTARIO MINERS ZERO IN ON INNOVATION (Ontario Mining Association – May 17, 2018)


On May 17, 2018, Ontario Mining Association (OMA) members gathered at the Art Gallery of Ontario for a day devoted to thinking creatively about the industry – exploring fresh ideas and talking about technologies that will allow Ontario to lead the world in creating the mine of the future.

Following an Annual General Meeting, the OMA Board of Directors joined the broader membership and partners from government and academia at a series of panel discussions devoted to furthering the association’s Target Zero+ innovation agenda, which aims to drive enhanced performance in health and safety (mining with zero harm); environmental protection and energy efficiency (mining with zero carbon and zero waste); and productivity (building global competitiveness).

In his opening remarks, OMA Chair and President & CEO of Wesome Gold Mines, Duncan Middlemiss, pointed out that Ontario is “a mining jurisdiction that balances economic efficiency with decreasing the environmental footprint of mining,” and that achieving further progress “will require a partnership with industry, Indigenous communities, research organizations and government.” He added that, “all of us will reap the benefits with Ontario as a global leader and exemplary mining jurisdiction.”

Satish Rao, Partner, Clareo, followed up with a keynote address, stressing that the mining industry has work to do to enjoy the kind of productivity gains that other industries have experienced over the past 15 years through technological advancements. He listed examples of success from other asset-intensive industries, while recognizing current efforts within the mining industry that are contributing to creating an innovation momentum.

The theme of Building Global Competitiveness through Productivity was expanded upon by a panel that included Helen Francis, Program Leader for Digital Transformation, Base Metals at Vale, Jim Gallagher, CEO and President, North American Palladium, and Nathan Stubina, Managing Director – Innovation, McEwen Mining. The discussion, moderated by Peter Xavier, VP Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, Glencore, focused on the human aspect of achieving productivity gains, and the need for effective leadership to take advantage of innovation-enabling technology and make progress happen.

Protecting employees’ health and safety is a moral and legal imperative, and the top priority for all Ontario miners. Excellence in occupational safety and health can also help attract the best staff and enhance workforce wellbeing, ultimately increasing productivity and improving profitability. A panel consisting of Frederic Mercier-Langevin, General Manager at Goldex, Dr. Sandra Dorman, Director, Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health at CROSH and Associate Professor at Laurentian University, and Lawrence Blake, Project Coordinator Mental Health Works, Canadian Mental Health Association, took a closer look at ways to Enhance Performance in Health and Safety – Mining with Zero Harm.

The moderator, Marc Lauzier, Mine General Manager, Goldcorp, highlighted that, “a safe mine is a productive mine” and that, “safety is fundamental to mine production in Ontario, with all Ontario miners working collectively to achieve zero harm.”

In the keynote that followed, Peter Campbell, Vice President Business Development at First Cobalt, the largest pure-play cobalt exploration and development junior mining company in North America, talked about his company’s leadership role in the electric vehicle revolution that is transforming Ontario mining, and driving a number of positive outcomes in safety, productivity and environmental protection.

Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency – Mining with Zero Waste and Zero Carbon was the focus of the subsequent panel, which included Jamie MacKinnon, Vice President of Environmental Solutions, Bluesource, Dr. Nadia Mykytczuk, Biomining, Bioremediation and Science Communication – Industrial Chair, Laurentian University, and Brad Kyte, Senior Manager for Business Development, Ontario Power Generation. Moderated by OMA President, Chris Hodgson, the panel took a multifaceted look at reducing the impact of mining activities on the environment and making Ontario the world’s primary source of low carbon commodities.

Once the mining practitioners, researchers and government/industry partners wrapped up their stimulating exchange, three university teams took the stage to compete in 2018 edition of the MINED Open Innovation Challenge (#MINED2018). Undergraduate students from three Ontario universities – University of Toronto (Lassonde Institute of Mining), Queen’s University (Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining) and Laurentian University (Bharti School of Engineering) had been given the opportunity to solve an industry challenge, drawn from OMA member companies’ real life mining operation scenarios.

Watch this video for an overview of the case study that was to be solved, which focused on improving productivity at a hypothetical Ontario mine. An industry expert panel reviewed all student submissions and selected three finalists, who got to pitch their ideas to top industry executives at a Dragons’ Den-like live event, emceed by George Flumerfelt, President and CEO, Redpath Mining Inc.

“Seeing who’s on the Dragons Den panel, I am happy I am not the one presenting today,” joked Keith Bullock, Mining Lead – Onaping Depth Project at Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, Glencore, case study author and leader of the MINED Expert Panel. He added, “We hope that working on a real-life problem and getting feedback from mining professionals has made the students appreciate how multifaceted our innovation-related decision making processes invariably are… the expert panel appreciated their novel approaches and think the Dragons will too.”

After an intense round of questions, the “Dragons,” who included Jon Gill, an Independent Director of Kirkland Lake Gold, Patrick Merrin, Senior Vice President of Goldcorp’s Canada Operations, and Peter Xavier, the Vice President of Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, selected the #MINED 2018 winners:

First Place ($15,000): Northern Mined Operations – Laurentian University
* Liam Anderson
* Anthony Farrugia,
* Michael Janakaraj

Second Place ($10,000): A Lasting Impact
– Laurentian University
* Shivam Sharma

Third Place ($5,000): Better Built Belts – Queen’s University
* Curtis Dykstra
* James Fortune
* Samuel Grant
* Ryan Mahon
* Jeff Wright

In addition, the $5,000 Audience Choice Prize went to Northern Mined Operations – Laurentian University. While the students clearly appreciate the substantial cash prizes, they found the exposure they gained to be invaluable.

The full day of innovation-focused events and the reception that followed were made possible by the generous financial and in-kind support of Ontario Mining Association members. OMA President, Chris Hodgson, thanked the companies listed below, concluding that, “The OMA is fortunate to have extraordinarily committed, knowledgeable, inspiring and generous members. Without their support, initiatives like Target Zero+ and MINED would not be possible.”