For decades, Canada has been a pinnacle of the global mining industry due to its vast deposits of important minerals and natural resources across this expansive nation. With the development of advanced technologies and equipment for extractive resource industries that have minimized the negative social, economic, and environmental impacts of mining, Canada has also become a standard-bearer of sustainable and socially-responsible mining and a role model to other important centres of resource extraction around the globe. In keeping with Canada’s position as a leader of corporate social responsibility in the mining sector, the federal government in 2011 announced the creation of the Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industry Development (CIIEID) as a key component of Canada’s Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy.
The 2013 World Mining Congress, hosted from August 11-15 in Montréal, will provide an excellent opportunity for the who’s who of the Canadian mining industry to showcase the country’s research and innovations in sustainable mining and development for thousands of international delegates and participants from Canada and around the world. Jointly run by the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and Montréal’s École Polytechnique, the CIIEID has been tasked with such a prominent role and integral mission in the hierarchy of Canada’s international resource extraction program that the Secretariat of the 2013 World Mining Congress has developed a plenary session specifically dedicated to examining the future of the organization.
The CIEIID plenary session, scheduled for the afternoon of August 14th at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, will be chaired concurrently by Dr. Wesley Cragg of the Canadian Business Ethics Research Network (CBERN) and Dr. Janis Shandro of Monkey Forest Consulting. As Professor Emeritus at the Schulich School of Business and founder and Project Director of CBERN, Dr. Cragg brings decades of experience in academic research on business ethics to the table, including a vested interested in sustainable mining practices in Canada and abroad. Dr. Shandro, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow who splits her time between the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria, is a specialist in health studies related to the boom-bust cycle in British Columbian mining communities and will be a valuable source of knowledge about the province where the CIEIID will operate.
Joining the plenary discussion are a number of other Canadian mining experts, most of whom are involved with the industry through their work in academia. Dr. Bern Klein, Head of the Norman B. Keevil Institute NBK of Mining Engineering at UBC, is already an integral member of the CIEIID team from the outset, in his position as the project’s Acting Executive Director. Prior to joining UBC in 1997, Dr. Klein spent eight years working in the area of metallurgical process design, accumulating a wealth of knowledge that he has subsequently transferred to trainers and artisanal miners in Zimbabwe, Indonesia, and Brazil through his participation in the Global Mercury Project. In addition, he has overseen the creation and delivery of programs in education, training, and capacity-building for mining engineers in the developing world, and he is therefore uniquely positioned to lead the CIIEID in its efforts to “undertake policy research to identify best practices in extractive sector management for individual [developing]countries.”
Another familiar face at UBC who will be partaking in the plenary panel is Dr. Marcello Veiga, Associate Professor at the university’s Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering. A native son of Brazil – another major centre for resource extraction – Dr. Veiga has spent more than thirty years working as a metallurgical engineer and mining consultant for extractive firms in his homeland, throughout Latin America, and in the United States and Canada as well. His expertise in mining is immense, and a long list of research interests includes diverse areas such as the biogeochemical cycle of heavy metals in the environment, mercury pollution from gold mining and hydroelectric reservoirs, and the sustainable development of mining. Between 2002 and 2008, Dr. Veiga’s experience in mercury pollution brought him to the fore of international development with his posting as the Chief Technical Advisor for the Global Mercury Project, a brainchild of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Dr. Richard Simon, Associate Professor at the École Polytechnique’s Department of Civil, Geological and Mining Engineering in Montréal, has also been invited to join the plenary discussion on the CIIEID. As the director of the school’s mining engineering program, Dr. Simon is a passionate supporter of capacity-building in developing countries, which will be a central focus of the CIIEID and is part of its founding mission in its quest to improve and strengthen extractive resource governance in emergent nations. The school has been actively engaged in developing strategies for North-South collaboration in mining engineering, and its faculty and students have been involved with capacity-building projects across Latin America and Africa. In 2009, Dr. Simon led a team of experts from École Polytechnique to Mauritania to assess the possibility of opening a mining school in the country, meant to help create the infrastructure needed to train Mauritanians in mining operations and assist them in gaining more from local development.
In addition to the plenary discussants who are engaged in the mining sector through their postings at academic institutions around the country, the panel will also hear from Dr. Catherine Coumans, the Research Coordinator for the mining advocacy non-profit organization MiningWatch Canada. As an unofficial watchdog for social and environmental concerns facing the extractives industry at home and abroad, MiningWatch Canada is committed to addressing “the urgent need for a coordinated public interest response to the threats…posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world.” Dr. Coumans has been particularly focused throughout her career on exploring issues affecting Indigenous communities around the world in places including India, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and elsewhere. Dr. Coumans has testified in Parliament on multiple occasions on areas relating to the mining sector, and she is currently engaged in monitoring government and industry initiatives which are relevant to the mission of MiningWatch Canada, with a strong regional focus on Asia-Pacific.
Finally, the fifth and last participant in the plenary panel on the CIIEID will be Jennifer Peng, the Director of Advancement at SFU’s Beedie School of Business. As one of the core members of the administrative team at Beedie, Ms. Peng is also closely involved with the SFU team that is responsible for getting the CIIEID off the ground and running. As such, she will join the discussion on the inception of this important institution with knowledge of the administrative and bureaucratic nuances and considerations that will be vital to ensuring the success of the CIIEID over the long term.