Future needs of the mining industry discussed at CIM annual conference

William Gleason

May 2, 2022

As the global mining industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, industry professionals around the world are learning that they are facing similar challenges. On May 1, a few thousand mining industry professionals returned to the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM/ICM) annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Much like the MINEXCHANGE 2022 SME Annual Conference & Expo that took place in February in Salt Lake City, the gathering was a welcome return to business as usual. And much like SME, the focus of much of the technical programing was on the biggest challenges the industry is facing. Among these are finding and retaining a skilled workforce to meet the surging demand for critical minerals; rapidly changing technology and the environment, social and governance factors.

The annual CIM conference kicked off with a plenary session that included a presentation from Beau Lotto, founder and CEO of Lab of Misfits/Lab of Misfits AR. His talk was followed by a panel discussion with industry leaders Donald Lindsay, president and chief executive officer, Teck Resources; Trinity Lloyd, energy transition and sustainability lead at Google Cloud, Randy Smallwood, president and chief executive officer, Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. and Dean Gehring, executive vice president and chief technology officer, Newmont Corp.

Lotto challenged the audience to think differently so that it can adapt to change and embrace diversity.

“You need to discover and pursue the authentic reasons for what you do,” Lotto said.

In the panel discussion that followed there was talk not just about the challenges the industry is facing, but also the opportunities that are evolving with the green energy transition.

“When we look around the world we have an incredible opportunity to lead the way,” said Smallwood. “We have a wealth of resources right here in Canada …. it doesn’t mean we exploit them, it means we manage them. What we deliver, society needs. We have opportunity here in Canada to show the world how it should be done.When we say “no” to a project here it pushes the demand to another jurisdiction in the world that often has less guidelines and does not mine with the same standards that we do.”

Among the issues that are presenting challenges and opportunity is the role of technology in the mining industry.

“Today the technology team I oversee has roles that were not even imagined 10 to 20 years ago,” said Gehring. “We need people with skills we didn’t need before. As I think in broader terms, we have a history of trying to simplify complex issues, and it’s important we get things right. But we also need to be more comfortable in understanding the ranges of possibilities.”

“We can see opportunity for mining in the energy transition,” said Lloyd. “There is a shift that is happening. Everyone is looking at ESG to improve and maintain compliance and to decarbonize. This is affecting all industries, but it is affecting those at top of the value chain more, like mining. The energy transition is just the first of many transitions that will be happening. It is also providing a lesson that we need to look outside of the walls and diversify.”



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