Photo by James Hodgins

What a wonderful time of the year, when snow starts falling and hot drinks soothe. I am excited for the week of black powder, or muzzle loader as it is sometimes called, here on Manitoulin Island, where I’ve been holed up. This is the last week of deer hunting, using an old-style of firearm in homage to our ancestors. It is a privilege and honour to follow this path, always respectful of our prey. Following an old tradition like this reminds me of the glory of our mines-of-old and the incredible miners who made the industry so strong right across Canada.

Speaking of winter traditions, I wonder what will transpire over the festive month with plans for holiday gatherings tentative at best. Office parties are being cancelled, gifting will likely consist of homemade cards and cookies and dinner parties will be sparsely attended.

Let’s not downplay the fact that 2020 was a year of isolation for many, with the recurring lockdowns and social distancing. While for every home with more than one occupant, it was also a time of constant companionship with each other. Too much, at times. It was a year of mental anguish, too, with losses and uncertainty.

As I reflect on 2020, I have mixed feelings. It was set up as such an exciting year at the outset. Big plans for our industry and CIM and its members: It turned into a year of new ways of doing business and certainly showcased our resilient nature.

Sadly we had to cancel our flagship CIM Convention and Expo, a first in our history. But we rallied and applied ourselves to adapting to virtual outreach and sharing through our networks. Our first all-virtual event was COM 2020, which, despite a few network blips, was a great success, with world-class papers and discussions on emerging technology and the latest practices in metallurgy and materials. It was followed by CIM Capital Projects Symposium, which hosted a range of top shelf speakers on an essential area of the business: exploring, engineering and delivering new mines and plants. A special shout-out to Brigitte Farah and Roy Slack for leading these two events.

Remote applications and technologies have paced rapidly this year outside of the realm of virtual events too. This month’s feature article covers the latest on the use of drones in geophysics. In my career, I had the good fortune to work alongside some very clever geophysicists in the old Inco Brownfield Exploration building. They were using all kinds of airborne devices and instruments, with high-powered computing systems, to understand various anomalies. This is such critical work, for making new discoveries and for accurate delineations within existing operations. Thanks to the entrepreneurs and leaders in our industry for their role in developing these new technologies, and for allowing CIM Magazine to share your news.

We have now arrived here, at the end of the year, in a better place than our dire March forecasts. Our ability to persevere and do amazing things remotely is testament to our industry and its members. Let’s continue to be positive, support each other, and stay safe.

Please accept my best wishes to you and your families for the holiday season and the new year.