Photo by James Hodgins

As we enter 2021, many of us are adapting to another lockdown. Though some of us still travel for work or other necessities, it is quite rare for most of us to have travelled anywhere in the last year. When out taking a walk, I now find the sound of an airplane overhead strange.  It reminds me of the aftershock of 9/11, when there were no contrails in the sky for a very long time. That crisis passed and we resumed our globe-trotting. The same will be said of COVID-19, hopefully in the near future.

Mining, unlike travel, is an industry that has not slowed down. We are, in fact, a strong economic engine for the country as we continue to employ many folks and pay our taxes. We are doing our part in providing essential metals and minerals to society. The entire mining supply chain is healthy, along with end-product manufacturing and sales. Online contactless retailers have excelled in ensuring customers get their needed products in a timely manner. From toilet paper to fresh vegetables, there has been a massive shift in how consumers shop for essentials. Thinking back five years, did we envision this transformation? I’ll bet not and yet, here we are, adapting and thriving, thanks to our resilience and thanks to the systems that were already in place: the internet, networks, communication devices, online stores, applications to link customers with sellers and the supply chain to get products to people’s doors.

That accelerated digital transformation is happening within the mining industry, too. Never has the industry been so well poised to use technology to improve safety, cost-effectiveness and productivity. Attention to the human interaction with technology is at the fore. We are thinking through every design aspect from shift schedules, to fly-in and fly-out alternatives, to clean work environments to open access to data and information.

There is also a growing recognition that the entire ecosystem must expand and become more robust, with new ways to work together.  This pertains to companies, suppliers, governments, academics, communities and Indigenous groups, investors, associations, and NGOs. There is a compelling vision for broader engagement and collaboration that would put the industry and the wider world on more sustainable footing.

CIM plays a critical role in this transformation by creating the space for people to collaborate, by curating knowledge, and by driving the industry toward a common vision. In this issue, you will find the preliminary program for the CIM 2021 Convention & Expo, appropriately themed “Resilient & Thriving – Together in a Changing World.” This year our annual convention is taking a giant step into digital transformation. With an industry-leading virtual platform, CIM 2021 will offer an exceptional lineup of technical presentations, keynote speakers, and a plenary panel that includes some of the global industry’s leading voices. At the Expo, participants will be able to not only network virtually with colleagues, but, through video and augmented-reality, they can actually experience the technologies that mining suppliers and service providers have to offer.

All these transformations in our industry are not unlike the shift to online shopping, we need only the imperative and the will. The rest will be history.

Please accept my best wishes to all of you and your families for 2021. Let’s stay positive in attitude and negative in COVID results.