Courtesy of Mike Cinnamond

The year is done and CIM’s birthday celebrations have wrapped up. Its first 125 years have seen an industry that has flourished here in Canada, North America and around the world. That got me thinking about some of the things that are needed to make the mining industry just as successful over the next 125 years.

One of the most important is the people who will lead it.

In early November, I was able to celebrate with the Vancouver Branch at its Annual Student Night. It was a packed event and I saw a lot of CIM stalwarts there, as well as many students from Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the British Columbia Institute of Technology. We welcomed the students to the CIM community and toasted to their future success.

Those students, and the many others like them across the country, are the future of both our mining industry and of CIM.

They will own the industry and lead how it operates around the world. They will carry CIM’s Brand Canada with them wherever they go—and go they must.

Mining is a global business and it is not getting any easier. Finding new deposits is becoming increasingly difficult and we are facing a geopolitical storm. The regions that are the most prospective are also the ones that are going through the growing pains of determining what their domestic mining regime should look like and how it treats foreign investment or foreign operating companies. Our new mining leaders will have to be open-minded as to where they go and how they adapt to changes in host states’ needs. They will need to be flexible in how they finance opportunities and include host states as partners in their ventures. They will have to focus on training local workforces and developing local supply chains.

Another key element of future success is innovation. How will we find new economic deposits and where will we find them? You will see in this edition of CIM Magazine that mining on the sea floor and in space are featured. That makes sense as new locations mean new opportunities, but we must also be innovative in assessing the opportunities in existing mining jurisdictions.

How can we make our existing operations more economic and sustainable? Energy must be a key focus. Harnessing sustainable green power from solar or wind sources can help us to lower costs and achieve our lower emission goals. Ultimately, global-scale electrification will be needed if lower emission goals are to be a reality. Like Donald Sadoway suggested at MetSoc’s Conference of Metallurgists opening plenary in August, we need to think big and use the base metals available in large volumes to both construct electrolytic cells and store energy on a large scale.

These are just a few of the many challenges our industry must address to be successful—but that means there are also lots of opportunities. As we wish CIM a happy 125th anniversary for the last time, let’s not just look back but also look forward to the next 125 years with optimism. It will be a time for our students and young mining professionals to shine and make sure our industry continues to thrive.

View the CIM 125th anniversary website