Ali Yaghini

Mohammad Babaei is passionate about developing and implementing innovative, digital technologies for the mining industry and has achieved quite a lot for someone who is still a couple of years away from turning 30. As a consultant and researcher, he has completed a doctorate in mining engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC), published several scientific papers, received numerous awards and taught students much older than himself as a seasonal instructor at UBC. Now, he has landed his “dream” job.

Babaei’s role as senior technical analyst of digital operations at Teck Resources combines his love for technology and data with operational knowledge of mine engineering. It involves traveling to Teck’s operations around the world to see where innovation and technology can be applied to improve productivity and unlock value.

“We should always be looking for innovative ideas and technologies,” said Babaei. “There are many small day-to-day improvements we can make to fill the gaps and move toward best practices and cost reductions.”

One such improvement is the diggability assessment index Babaei developed for Teck as part of his PhD, completed in March 2017. By connecting instrumentation to rope shovels to collect data about the physical properties of the materials and muck pile conditions, Teck was able to reduce the amount of explosives used at one mine site by 4 million kilograms, or about 10 per cent.

“Teck’s approach to innovation is to engage experts from a wide range of backgrounds across the company, in an effort to develop innovative ideas and technologies that will continue to advance how we operate,” said Babaei.

Babaei said he believes the mining industry should nurture young talent and recognize potential leaders of the future. Mining is undergoing a digital transformation, he said, and needs to engage employees who can convert a vision of mining ten years in the future into reality.

“That’s my goal, to help the industry be prepared and successful in its digital transformation,” said Babaei. “As a data scientist and expert in mining technologies, I want to be the guy who brings the technology and lead the innovation.”

Next: The patient player
John McConnell, CEO of Victoria Gold Corp.