Pit Stop No11: The Sustainability Report Competition

Last semester, I was given the opportunity to build and coach a team to take part in the Sustainability Report Competition. This competition is not only constructive but also very exciting! In fact, for the first time it is university students who are the jury and are judging which Canadian company has the best #Sustainability report.

For each specific industry sector (Energy, Finance, Materials, Consumer Products, etc.), a jury is composed of students from different universities. In this year’s edition, there was a team from Concordia, HEC Montreal, UQAM, McGill and Sherbrook. Each group of students was given a set of Canadian companies belonging to a specific sector. The students should then conduct an assessment of the most recently published sustainable development reports of all the companies in the sector. Each jury is free to determine its own selection criteria.

I was able to gather 5 members on my team form the McGill mining engineering program. We were responsible of choosing the best sustainability report among 12 reports belonging to Canadian mining companies.

After brainstorming, we ended up with a list of criteria that we thought are essential to make a great report. The first part of the criteria was focused on the report format, how easily the report transmits the information. Some categories included accessibility, the use of GRI index and the visual. The second part of the criteria was focused on the corporate sustainability strategy.

Some of the criteria related to the stakeholder included evidences of positive impacts on the community, local contractors, the company’s efforts to be socially involved with the communities where it operates as well as the handling of complaints. Another important criteria regarded human rights. We were looking for programs or examples of efforts in human rights especially for mining companies operating in sensitive countries. Some of the criteria specific to mining also included safety in the workplace, safety trainings, safety awards programs and handling of employee complaints or work refusal. Last but not least, the environment is an issue particularly important for mining companies. We gave emphasis to information relative to waste management, water issues, and consumption of natural resources. We also gave some importance to details on the reclamation plan and the number of inspections, if there were any.

Once we determined the criteria we could proceed into reading the reports. Before doing so we established a methodology. Since we were five working on the Canadian mining companies, as our first step we divided the 12 reports between each other and each one of us ended up reading 2 to 3 reports and choosing the best one among them. At that point we were left with 5 reports. The second round consisted in reading another 2 reports.

One of my team members decided to focus on three international mining companies’ reports although it wasn’t part of our job! Nevertheless it was interesting to see the difference in reporting!

We were impressed by three reports that in our opinion stood out. Our three finalists were Goldcorp, Kinross and Teck Resources. The competition ended with a luncheon where each group of students gave a quick presentation of their work and presented a trophy to the winner. We decided to give the trophy for best mining sustainability to Goldcorp and presented a trophy to Goldcorp VP of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Brent Bergeron.

Goldcorp VP Brent Bergeron holding the trophy with the McGill mining team!
Goldcorp VP Brent Bergeron holding the trophy accompanied by lawyer Jean M. Gagné and part of the McGill mining team

It was a great experience from all the McGill mining team! I hope this competition will encourage the mining companies to increase the extent and detail of the reporting they provide. Because in mining like in other industries you can’t manage what you don’t measure!


Pit Stop No10: The Engineers Without Borders Canada Annual Conference/Mining stream

Every year EWB Canada holds its annual conference; for the first time this year, the conference had a special focus on the mining industry and tackled some of its challenges through a series of workshops and sessions.

The mining stream revolved around the question of how mining could “work” for development; what conditions need to be in place for mining to advance development outcomes? What opportunities exist for private companies to do more for development? How can communities and companies work in local partnerships?

One of my favourite session was the “Making Mining Work for Development: An Interactive Role-Play”. This session, organized by consulting company Hatch was both fun and constructive. We were divided into five groups representing exactly the client, the local businesses, the international businesses and NGOs. The projected consisted in the construction of a nickel mine in a remote location in Africa. Each one of the groups was given a set of contracts that needed to be signed between the groups prior to the construction of the mine. It was really challenging to satisfy the project constraints as well as the expectations of each group. This session gave us a good sense of the complexity of mining projects. It was a privilege to have Kinross Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Ed Opitz as one of the members of my group. His input was really valuable and he explained to us how in real life those kinds of projects were handled.

Mining is a big player in development. In Africa for example, a mine will hire the local workforce, provide training, education and local procurement. Although the mining industry is far from perfect, there is a progress in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Mining companies are becoming more aware of the importance of CSR and its positive impacts.

Overall, the conference was a real blast! I met with many EWB delegates form all over Canada; I felt inspired by the story of the women and men from the Kumvana delegation who fought for their education, who still fight to better the future of their communities. I was particularly touched by Nafisa Adams’ courage and strong will. After fighting her way to school, Nafisa decided to go back to her community village in Ghana and give hope to the women there. She founded the Beads of Hope Ghana. This business provides the opportunity to the women to bead simple jewelry while becoming more economically independent.

Nafisa Adams and I selling some Bead for Hope at the EWB 2015 conference
Nafisa Adams and I selling some Beads for Hope at the EWB 2015 conference

The conference showed me that there is potential in each one of us to make a positive #change. I am ready to put that positive attitude in action and continue working hard to promote sustainability in mining!

The EWB conference ended with music and a dance floor!
The EWB conference ended with music and a dance floor!

PS: Did you know that EWB Canada has a Mining Shared Value venture! Not sure what it means? Mining shared Value is about helping Canadian mining companies maximize local procurement of goods and services so that the host countries gain economical and social benefits from the mining activities.

PPS: You can follow the Mining shared Value on twitter @ewb_msv

Pit Stop No9: The Intercollegiate Business Convention (IBC)

Not everything about mining has to be technical, does it? Well no! A lot of mining revolves around investing, evaluating a mining company’s worth and consulting for the mining industry.

In this post I have decided to talk business. I have recently attended the Intercollegiate Business Convention (IBC) in Boston and want to share my experience with you!

Organized by the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business, the IBC brings together over a thousand female delegates from universities around the globe with a common interest in business and leadership. This weekend-long event is composed of social events, learning opportunities, innovation workshops and networking dinners. Its objective changes from year to year; this year’s objective is to build a global support network and community of empowerment for collegiate women interested in business.

This year’s IBC featured some inspiring speakers: Maureen Chiquet, Global CEO of Chanel and one Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” as well as journalist Jill Abramson, who spent the last 17 years in the most senior editorial positions at the New York Times.

This event was not only fun to attend as I met so many people from diverse backgrounds but also very inspiring as I heard many successful female professionals talk about their career path and what got them where they are.  What I have learnt in a nutshell: know and pursue what you love to do and work hard; there will be challenges along the way but be ready to fight back and fight hard. I have also learnt that it is extremely useful to have a mentor to guide you. The most successful people have mentors! It is important to ask for and receive advice from people who have more experience and have already tackled some of the challenges that we haven’t.

Part of the McGill Delegation at IBC 2014
Part of the McGill Delegation at IBC 2014

Pit Stop No8: Meet Delphine!

Delphine Quach is a fourth-year mining engineering co-op student at McGill University. She has agreed to share with us her first co-op experience within the mining industry. Hear what she has to say!

1. Why mining as a career option?

I always had an interest in geology and I knew that a career in mining would allow to me travel a lot and be part of a global industry. Also, mining offers a combination of both field and office work which appealed to me. After having my first internship my interest grew and I knew I was on the right track.

2. Where have you had your first experience and what were your main duties?

My first experience was an eight-month co-op position at the consulting firm Groupe Alphard. I took part in two different projects. The first one was commissioning; I had to make sure along with the team I was working with, that everything was good prior to the commencement of operation at the Bloom Lake mine in Fermont, Quebec. We were testing equipment and machinery. It was a FIFO job (Fly-in-fly-out) so I was spending two weeks on site in Fermont, one week in the Montreal office and then one week off. My second project was more geotechnical: I did some vacuum and ultrasound testing to check that there was no leakage in and out of the tailings pond.

3. Describe a typical day at your job.

I would wake up at around 4:30 am get a ready and ride to the mine to be on site at 6 am. The day would always start with several meetings; an internal one where the team and I would discuss the tasks to be done that day and an outer one where we would meet with the client, the construction company and other. My day would then consist in 6 to 7 hours of fieldwork with a lunch break of course.

Delphine working onsite in Fermont!
Delphine working onsite in Fermont!

4. What was your favorite part of the job?

The combination of field and office work was amazing. The fact that I had the opportunity to interact with a lot of people from different background (construction firm, consulting firm, client, financial people, engineers, technicians) was a great part of my job.

5. What was the most challenging part of your job?

The cold! There were days where the temperature would drop as low as -60 degrees and I had to work outside.

6. Have you ever had a bad experience?

Not really! The traveling was a bit tiring but you get use to it.

7. What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions about working in mining?

There are more women working in mining than you think! I met a few female technicians driving heavy machinery. At work, there is absolutely no difference between a man and a woman; if you show you have the capacity and ability to do the job then you are fine!

It’s safe! In my opinion it is safer to work at a mine than to cross the street.

8. What skills did you most used at the work? Academic knowledge? Teamwork? Time management?

It was most importantly communication skills, as I had to talk with so many different people. Also team work and time management are essential. For any employer, time is money so I had to make sure to respect the deadlines.

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Done with my EIT (Engineer-In-Training) program and perhaps working in project management somewhere in Russia or Australia. Who knows?

Pit Stop No7: Women In Mining

Women In Mining or WIM is an international community composed of men and women working in the mineral and mining industry. The mining sector faces many challenges including a shortage of skilled labor. Attracting and retaining women within the mining workforce may be the best solution to this crisis. It is WIM’s role to encourage young women to join the mining industry and help established professionals connect and navigate their way through a successful career in the mineral sector.

WIM Canada strives to ensure a movement of professionals committed to bringing about a sustainable minerals industry in Canada. WIM Canada engages its members through mentorship, networking, educational forums, advocacy, debates and industry speaking opportunities. The mineral and mining sector is one of the most important sectors to the Canadian economy; it is one of WIM’s roles to improve the general public’s perception of this needed economy.

Women In Mining Canada hosted an industry speaking panel at the 23rd World Mining Congress.
Women In Mining Canada hosted an industry speaking panel at the 23rd World Mining Congress.

As an active member of this community, I try to take part to as many WIM events as I can; it is a great occasion to meet new industry professionals. The Montreal branch of WIM Canada regularly organizes luncheons that gather about forty members in Down Town Montreal (men are welcome too!) Each lunch is then followed by a presentation from one or two female professionals on their career path. These women are leaders in the industry and are willing to share their experiences with us. These meetings are also a fantastic opportunity to network and make some industry contacts.

If you are a student in mining or a professional working in the industry, I strongly encourage you to join this vibrant community and learn how you can contribute to better the perception of women working in the mining industry and what this community can do to improve you career path.

N.B: To receive updates, news and inspiring stories of women in mining follow the international Women In Mining community’s blog here.

Pit Stop No6: The fascinating MIM

A fascinating set of jewels, a pool of wonders, a burst of colors; that is what we find at the MIM, Museum of Minerals.

The MIM exhibits more than 1500 minerals, gathered from around the world and brought to Beirut by Salim Eddé. Eddé has been collecting fabulous specimens since 1997. His collection is considered as one of the most important private collections due to its minerals’ wide variety, unique features and high quality. The museum is located in the campus of Saint Joseph University in Beirut, Lebanon.

The first room encountered when visiting the museum assembles 9 minerals appertaining to the traditional Berzelius chemical classification.

Mineral of the MIM
Mineral of the MIM
Mineral Vanadinite from the Phosphates, Vanadates & Arsenates class. The mineral originates from Morocco.
Mineral Vanadinite from the Phosphates, Vanadates & Arsenates class. The mineral originates from Morocco.


Silicate Mineral from India.
Silicate Mineral from India.

The museum also displays some radioactive minerals. These specimens are presented in a secured space and the gas generated by radioactivity, the radon, is safely removed. The museum is well designed: specific lighting is used to highlight the color variations in species such as tanzanite, the transparency of gemstones like peridot and tourmaline.

Gold AU from the USA.
Gold AU from the USA.
Fluorite mineral CaF2, from China.
Fluorite mineral CaF2, from China.
Rhodochrosite mineral.
Rhodochrosite mineral.

The Treasure assembles 21 precious metals in safe-like room. Several specimens of topaz, rubies, emeralds and sapphires were specifically selected for their visible geometric form. A 328 carats diamond from South Africa is also guarded in the Treasure.

The Treasure room displaying 21 precious metals.
The Treasure room displaying 21 precious metals.
Cerussite PbCO3, from Australia. Some green malachite spots can be seen. The patterns formed are perfect equilateral triangles.
Cerussite PbCO3, from Australia. Some green malachite spots can be seen. The patterns formed are perfect equilateral triangles.
Mesolite mineral from India.
Mesolite mineral from India.
Specimen of Spessartine and Quartz, from China.
Specimen of Spessartine and Quartz, from China.

N.B: The MIM gets its name from the 24th letter of the Arabic alphabet, which corresponds to the M in Latin alphabet. It is also the first letter of the words Museum, Minerals and Mines in Arabic, English and French. More info available at www.mim.museum

Pit Stop No5: The Walrus Talks Energy with Suncor

Part of its educational mandate, The Walrus Foundation has organized a national speaker series The Walrus Talks. Each talk brings together eight speakers for a seven minutes presentation each on various subjects relating to a single theme. The Walrus Talks deliver lively, inspiring and riveting new ideas and challenges the way we look at big issues. Each talk is then followed by a reception with both attendees and participants.

Suncor Energy, a Canadian integrated energy company has hosted with The Walrus Foundation a four-part, cross-country speaker series about Canada’s energy future. The Walrus Talks Energy broadens its public understanding on sustainable energy future, collective environmental impact, the challenges of energy production and what lies ahead in terms of energy demand and consumption.

One of The Walrus Talks Energy was held in Montreal at McGill University, on October 1st 2013. The speakers included Vicky Sharpe, the CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada; Andrew Heintzman, the president of Investeco Capital, the first Canadian investment company to be exclusively focused on environmental sectors; and Kali Taylor, the founder of Student Energy, an organization that strives to create a movement of students committed to bringing about a sustainable energy future.

Suncor Presents The Walrus Talks Energy at McGill University

The 2014 Walrus Talks will address numerous themes and feature more than a 100 speakers across Canada. Information on future Talks available at thewalrus.ca/events.

N.B: The walrus Foundation is a non-profitable organization whose mandate is to create dynamic forums to engage Canadians on diverse themes such as water, energy, philanthropy, literature, urban spaces, human rights, climate change etc. The foundation supports writers, artists and provoking ideas by publishing The Walrus magazine, organizing speakers’ event, debates and leadership dinners as well as other events across Canada. To know more about The Walrus, visit www.thewalrus.ca

Pit Stop No4: The World Mining Congress

Mining is not only about mines and digging deeper; it is an exciting world that joins the exploration activities, the environmental services, the mining suppliers and the investment departments. In order for the mining industry to remain global and up to date on the leading edge technologies, an international committee is responsible of organizing the World Mining Congress (WMC).

This international congress brings together thousands of delegates from around the globe. It is a high-level knowledge sharing and networking event that gathers exhibitors in mining as well as in automation, robotics and construction. Each congress has a motto from which revolves its technical program of peer-reviewed papers.

The 23rd WMC was hosted in Montreal by the Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM) in collaboration with five professors from major Canadian universities. This WMC was held in conjunction with the ISARC 2013, the International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in the Construction and Mining Industries. The exhibition hall presented more than 250 mining industry related manufacturers and service providers.

Autochthones  were invited to perform at the 23rd WMC in Montreal
First Nations were invited to perform at the 23rd WMC in Montreal
Prof. Ferri Hassani is one of the five professors to help in organizing the 23rd WMC
Prof. Ferri Hassani is one of the five professors to help in organizing the 23rd WMC

The next WMC will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and will be organized by the IBRAM, the Brazilian Mining Association. It will be located at the prestigious Sul América Convention Center.

N.B: Polish mining engineer Prof. Boleslaw Krupiński initiated The World Mining Congress when he organized the first congress in 1958 in Warsaw. He remained chairman until 1972. Today, the WMC is a UN-affiliated organization and is run by the permanent secretariat seated in Poland.

Pit Stop No3: the Lamaque Mine

The underground Lamaque gold mine is located in the famous region of Val d’Or or Valley of Gold. This region was established in 1934 fueled by the discovery of massive copper and gold ore bodies.  The great gold rush triggered a mining boom throughout the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

The Lamaque mine started production in 1935 and 50 years later it was exhausted and shut down. Today, the Mine and the Bourlamaque historic mining village of Val d’Or are part of “The city of Gold” museum. This Museum offers visits of the mining site and invites you to become a miner for a day. Guests experience an underground descent to a depth of 90 meters. Underground, the guide, an old miner, explains the different methods of gold extraction and at the surface, visitors can see an ore transformation process within the laboratory and visit the pithead frame, hoist room and dryer section.


Welcome to La Cite de l'Or
Welcome to La Cite de l’Or


Guide explaining to visitors the history of Val d'Or
Guide explaining to visitors the history of Val d’Or
Visitors in the underground galleries of the mine
Visitors in the underground galleries of the mine
The guide is showing that when the mine was still active, the galleries were created by drilling and blasting
The guide is showing that when the mine was still active, the galleries were created by drilling and blasting
The underground galleries of the Lamaque  gold mine
The underground galleries of the Lamaque gold mine

Pit Stop No2: Canadian Malartic mine

The Canadian Malartic open-pit
The Canadian Malartic open-pit

Canadian Malartic is one of Canada’s largest gold mine. Situated in the city of Malartic, 20 Km west from Val D’Or in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, this open-pit mine is expected to produce gold between 500 000 and 600 000 ounces of gold per year over a 16-year mine life. The first gold ingot was poured on April 2011 and commercial production started in May 2011. Built on time and on budget, Canadian Malartic presents a Probable Reserves of 9.37 million ounces of gold and continues to grow..

Haul trucks transporting the ore. Another truck is seen hydrating the ground to prevent the dust  spreading
Truck transporting the ore. Another truck is seen hydrating the ground to prevent the spreading of dust

The Canadian Malartic mining complex is comprised of several facilities including the conveyor belt and crushed ore stockpile building; a processing plant, a garage and numerous other installations. This immense complex represent an investment of more than $1 billion.

Secondary crushing circuit.
Secondary crushing circuit
Conveyor belt and ore reserve
Conveyor belt and crushed ore stockpile building

The Canadian Malartic mine is one of the most dynamic and interesting mine to work in particularly because it is located just across the town of Malartic. To minimize the impact of the sound generated by the haul trucks and shovels on the Malarticois, Osisko has constructed a green wall of several meters surrounding its mine.  In addition, drilling and blasting activities are interrupted when the wind blows towards the town; blasting is resumed when it is sure that the town will be uninfected by the blast.

Excavator placing the ore in a CAT793F mining truck
Letourneau loader placing the ore in a CAT793F mining truck

N.B: Want to experience Canadian Malartic ? This mine is open to visitors from early June to Labor day, fom Tuesday to Sunday; Make reservations in advance by contacting the Musée Minéralogique de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue (650, rue de la Paix, Malartic (quebec) J0Y 1Z0; Telephone (819) 757-4677; info@museemalartic.qc.ca).