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. Here are our top choices for 2023.

Two industries at a crossroads

Globally, there are approximately 45 million artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM)—subsistence miners who work informally and independently, rather than being employed by mining companies. While many mining companies and their buyers have tried to distance themselves from ASM miners due to legal and reputational concerns, the demand for critical minerals may compel more companies to engage in the formalization of the sector. Kelsey Rolfe examined how a growing number of mining companies are actively collaborating with the ASM sector, and explored how certain countries have developed frameworks aimed at formalizing ASM operations.  – Ailbhe Goodbody

Mapping the capacity for inclusion

Mining companies trying to build relationships and trust with local communities near their projects often ask the wrong questions, according to Monica Ospina, founder of the consultancy O Trade. “Don’t ask them what they need,” she advised the audience at the CIM Capital Projects Symposium in November, “ask them what they can do.” It is one of the fundamental questions that informs her methodology for mapping the capacity of local communities to generate engagement and de-risk projects. She also shared her insights and approach in an interview with CIM Magazine’s Ailbhe Goodbody. – Ryan Bergen

Going back for seconds

In today’s world of sustainable practices, looking for valuable minerals in waste is attracting interest. Regular contributor Kelsey Rolfe covered this growing trend, as numerous mining industry players are recognizing the value in the old adage that one person’s trash is another’s treasure by revisiting mine tailings, old batteries and slime waste to recover valuable metals amidst the critical minerals boom. Rio Tinto, Electra Battery Metals and EnviroGold Global, among others, are innovating ways to salvage the minerals that were once thrown out in the trash. – Michele Beacom

The struggle for clean air

When Ontario announced the reduction of diesel engine exhaust (DEE) exposure limits in underground mines in April, reporter Matthew Parizot investigated. He interviewed Mike Parent, vice-president of health and safety services at Workplace Safety North (WSN), who along with advocacy groups like the Diesel Particulate Project, worked behind the scenes for years advocating for stricter regulations to save lives. There are some who have said we shouldn’t be talking about “dirty air” amidst a drop in mining engineering students, but not only is it important to highlight the efforts being made to protect workers whose health is at risk—it is key to protecting the future generations the industry depends on. – Silvia Pikal

Moving the dial forward

When I first heard of the opportunity to work with CIM Magazine and cover mining in North America and the world, I thought, “what is there left to report on the mining industry that keeps them relevant in a climate change activism-centred and sustainability-focused world?” Reporter Tijana Mitrovic set me straight with her news story in October about the trend of mining companies such as Barrick Gold Corporation, Agnico Eagle and Teck Resources embracing environmental, sustainability and governance goals by using the United Nations sustainable development goals as the blueprint for current and future operations. They also keep in mind the collaboration needed with Indigenous communities, governments and critical minerals companies towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions targets. – Noel Ormita

Iron ore for a greener future

If you are a mining company focused on a commodity that is not on Canada’s critical minerals list, like Canada’s iron ore companies, you need to work that much harder to make the case for how you can contribute to decarbonization. This feature, by regular contributor Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco, details the major impact Canadian iron ore miners can have in cutting global emissions in steelmaking, and the risk of concentrating too narrowly on critical minerals if carbon reduction is the goal. – RB

The power of speaking up

Throughout 2023, our Modern Miner section showcased mining professionals who are leading the industry forward. Early in the year, reporter Sara King-Abadi profiled Laurie Reemeyer, the principal consultant of Resourceful Paths, who is at the forefront of pushing for change to make the mining industry more welcoming for young professionals. He talked about his experiences as a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community in the mining industry, noting that while it has come a long way since the 1990s, when he didn’t feel safe to be out at work, there is still a lot of work to be done to create an inclusive space where no one has to hide who they are. Read the rest of our Modern Miner profiles here.  – SP

The Australian wave

Canada, long revered as a land of opportunity for miners, has become particularly attractive to Australian exploration and mining companies in the last five years. Regular contributor Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco wrote that the Aussies are lured by abundant Canadian natural resources, as well as Canada’s significant government incentives to support global critical mineral demands. The similarities between the two global mining powerhouses, like their strong mining codes and skilled workforces, which are offset by their differences, such as their distinctly different capital markets, means that collaboration can benefit both countries. – NO

Cluff Lake rebirth

As countries worldwide turn their attention to nuclear energy as a potential source of low-carbon power, the safe and sustainable closure of uranium mines has become even more crucial. Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco’s project profile of Orano Canada’s Cluff Lake uranium project in Saskatchewan, which produced more than 62 million pounds of uranium concentrate over a 22-year mine life, details how the company decommissioned and reclaimed the site over a 21-year period before receiving permission to hand it off to the province’s Institutional Control Program for post-closure management of decommissioned uranium mines in May this year, setting an example of responsible closure. – AG  

Cretaceous excavation

Without a doubt, Donald Henderson has every kid’s dream job. As curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta, he regularly crosses paths with the oil sands industry, where the fossils of large marine reptiles that lived and died in the Western Interior Seaway during the Cretaceous Period are discovered every couple of years. In an interview with Ailbhe Goodbody, CIM Magazine senior editor, he explained how the fossils, buried 110-112 million years ago, lie just above the McMurray Formation, from which bitumen is extracted at Alberta’s oil sands mines. Excavating these exciting finds rarely disrupts the business of mining, and with the mine’s heavy equipment in situ, the excavations are often a team effort. – MB