We, the editors of CIM Magazine, looked back at the many stories we covered over the months and are highlighting those that we think capture the zeitgeist of the year. COVID-19 inevitably focused a lot of our coverage in 2020, but environmental sustainability and technological innovation continued to be top of mind in our pages and on our website. Here are our top choices for the year. 

COVID-19 breeds creativity
While the Canadian mining industry was mostly spared the lengthy shutdowns of other, non-essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic, this was only possible due to mining companies adapting their safety protocols and adopting new technologies to make their operations safer. While the measures haven’t been perfect, early planning and remote working have changed the way miners work, possibly forever.  – Matthew Parizot

Has sustainability reporting become unsustainable?
Investors are putting a high priority on mining companies’ exposure to ESG risks, from water usage and how climate change could impact operations to safety and board and executive diversity. But navigating the various reporting standards has become more than a full-time job. This article is a much-needed call to action for the ratings agencies to find commonality in how they measure ESG categories. – Michele Beacom

Future-proofing against climate change
Temperatures in Canada have already risen by 2.3 degrees Celsius since the mid-20th century and the effects of climate change are worsening across the globe. At this point, it’s important for companies to not only revise their environmental safety benchmarks, but to look ahead and create new practices that prepare them for future environmental events. In our March/April issue, Cecilia Keating spoke with companies and organizations about how miners can better prepare their operations today for the challenges of tomorrow.  – Tijana Mitrovic

A counting of tailings in Canada
The series of tailings storage facility failures over the last few years has focused attention on the waste generated by mining. The emphasis of disclosure led to the creation of the Global Tailings Portal, which has information on more than 1800 dams around the world. Once we at CIM Magazine zeroed in on Canada, however, it became clear that more work could be done. “A counting of tailings in Canada” consolidates information from the Portal, as well as from company filings and provincial sources. The result is a map with more than twice the number of TSFs counted in the Portal and a sign that the effort to disclose these facilities is still very much a work in progress.  – Ryan Bergen

A new spin on an old concept
This is the kind of story that’s fun for a Canadian journalist to tell. It involves a home-grown solution to a thorny engineering problem. It showcases innovation and co-operation and inventiveness. It mixes the best of current engineering practices with technology and concepts that are over 100-years old, bringing together the old (railway turntables) and the new (Alimaks). It also demonstrates there’s business demand for good ideas. It’s another story that originated at a trade show: MEMO 2019, where I watched the audience light up with delight at Dumas’ presentation. I hope our article delivers the same sense of joy.  – Carolyn Gruske

Using innovation to fix innovation
The ingenuity applied to mining and mineral processing over the last century has made the comfortable lives we lead possible, generating vastly more saleable product for a fraction of the unit cost. This productivity, however, has resulted in the creation of enormous amounts of waste and the environmental liability that comes with it. The challenge, now, writes Hilscher is to apply a similar ingenuity to shrinking mining’s footprint. He helpfully provides a few suggestions on where to begin.  – Ryan Bergen

Renaissance in Red Lake
PureGold has an interesting story to tell. The company applied current knowledge to outdated understandings of geology to recognize the deposit’s potential. The mine was built with electrification and optimization in mind. For me though, this story symbolizes something we lost in 2020 – the opportunity to meet new people in the industry. I encountered the PureGold team at PDAC. That was the last event I attended in 2020. It was probably a lot of people’s last industry event. It’s a situation we never anticipated at the end of 2019 when we were looking ahead to what the new year promised.  – Carolyn Gruske

The elements of hydrogen-powered mining
At a time when the idea of net-zero emissions is dominating discussion about climate change, the case for using hydrogen in the mining industry is gaining strength. Along with its low cost, low carbon footprint and its convenience for remote locations, the hydrogen fuel can be adopted alongside battery electric power technology. Many companies are now trialling the technology. At the same time, standards are being written to regulate safety and usage best practices. As Dominique Beaudry, corporate director for innovation at Agnico-Eagle said in the article, “Hydrogen is the energy of the future.” – Michele Beacom

Cosmic rays helping underground exploration
It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to talk about space in a magazine that focuses on what’s underground, so when Ideon’s cosmic ray muon tomography tech crossed my desk I was eager to learn more. While the technology may be novel, it’s a perfect example of the sheer length that the industry is willing to go to find the next great mineral deposit.  – Matthew Parizot

Over a century of giving
Every year since 1916, the children in Timmins’ Schumacher neighbourhood have received presents from mining’s very own Santa Claus. The story of Frederick W. Schumacher follows the Danish immigrant from a pharmacy in Texas, to the high society of Columbus, Ohio, to the Porcupine gold rush in Ontario. After purchasing plots of land and setting up mining operations near the town of Aura Lake, he began the tradition of buying holiday gifts for all of the miners’ children in 1916. Over 100 years later, Schumacher’s tradition continues to bring a little holiday cheer to the community.  – Tijana Mitrovic