PDAC Leadership Changes

By Angus Gillespie

The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada has undergone two major leadership changes on its executive branch in the span seven months.  Scott Jobin-Bevans relinquishes his role as president after serving out his specified two-year term, with Glenn Nolan officially taking the reins for the next two years following the International Convention, Trade Show & Investors Exchange, held in Toronto during the first week in March.  Of note, Nolan becomes the first Aboriginal to hold the high-profile position. The other big change took place last August 15, when Ross Gallinger took over as executive director when Tony Andrews stepped down after an incredible 25 years of service.

PDAC has been representing the interests of our national mineral exploration and development industry for the past eight decades, forming in 1932.  The association first came about in response to proposed government legislation that was seen as divisive to prospectors.  It has grown tremendously from those early years and its expansion continues to this very day. 

The national organization has almost 7,700 individual members including: prospectors, developers, geoscientists, consultants, mining executives, and students, as well as those involved in the drilling, financial, investment, legal and other peripherally-related support fields.  There are almost 1,100 corporate members, including senior, mid-size and junior mining companies and organizations providing services to the mineral industry. PDAC has a staff of 22 working out of its main office in Toronto.  

What has been noticeable is the tremendous proliferation in the convention’s international presence.  This notable cultivation is especially true for the likes of countries from Latin America, China and India.  The end result has been a greater number of international-style programs and services being offered in order to better accommodate those delegates in attendance, including many government representatives.  According to a report generated by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual convention contributed almost $72 million to Toronto’s economy in 2011.
One of the primary goals of the PDAC is to provide its members with the resources to achieve success in their daily activities.  PDAC stresses that in order to continue the advancement of the industry as a while, its members need to encourage greater participation from the communities they work with, which includes: increased business, training and employment opportunities for those living there.

The mining industry has been one of the fundamental forces spearheading the Canadian economy, providing $8.4 billion to governments in taxes and royalties in 2010 while employing in excess of 300,000 people. The mining industry also holds the distinction of being the biggest private sector employer of Aboriginal Canadians.

Outgoing President Scott Jobin-Bevans

During an interview from the Dominican Republic, Scott Jobin-Bevans, 44, tells us he looks at his entire time on the PDAC executive in terms of accomplishments, dating back to 2002. A primary desire was to increase the involvement of younger people, which he’s successfully achieved. 

“One of the initiatives we started in 2007 was the Student Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop,” he proudly notes.  “This two-week course, designed for students from across the country, has really started to build momentum amongst young people.  We went from less than 100 attending the convention when I became a director to over 1,000 attending the convention now.”

Increasing corporate social responsibility awareness both for the industry and the public, along with health and safety initiatives, are other areas Jobin-Bevans believes have improved immensely throughout the years.  Addressing the dilemmas facing First Nations communities has continued to be a main focal point, so the timing of having Glenn Nolan taking over as president couldn’t have been better.

“It’s definitely one of our top five issues and challenges at the PDAC,” confirms Jobin-Bevans.  “Glenn is right in there in his role at Noront Resources where he is community consultation leader and he has to work daily with communities in northern Ontario.”

There was a time when the PDAC was recognized more on a regional scale but that scope has expanded not only to a national level but internationally as well.  Jobin-Bevans explains that a major change came about last summer when Ross Gallinger came in as the new executive director with his own ideas and agenda.  
“He wants to see a refocusing of the PDAC and part of it is not to forget about our entity with Canada and the fact we are here to represent Canadians both at home and abroad but also to increase its presence internationally.  We won’t see it changing course growing globally.”

The advocacy side of the PDAC is a central part of what the organization is all about, and that means interacting directly with governments, both at the federal and provincial levels. 

“I think that we are definitely becoming the go-to association on the big issues whether it’s in exploration or mining.  Having that sort of respect from governments’ means they tend to listen more so now,” Dr. Jobin-Bevans states.  “They are understanding more and more the importance of minerals and mining to our economy in Canada.  It’s something you wouldn’t think you have to teach your governments about, but you really do – constantly.

As past president, Jobin-Bevans will remain on the executive committee for the next two years.  After that he will be on a past presidents’ advisory group.  He’s also a coach on the human resource development committee, which is part of the student outreach program, so clearly he’s going to remain intimately involved.

Jobin-Bevans has enjoyed a tremendous amount of personal success, prior to coming onboard with the PDAC.  He co-founded Caracle Creek International Consulting in 2001 with business partner Trevor Richardson who had gone to South Africa to further his education. 

“I was in Sudbury at the time,” Jobin-Bevans says.  “We were both into platinum group metals and even although the industry was down, there was a lot of interest in those particular metals.  The work I was doing in Sudbury coupled with what he was doing in South Africa, we decided we should put together a company.  Now almost 11 years later, we have over 100 geologists worldwide including an office we’ve just opened here in the Dominican Republic.”  In addition to the Dominican, the company already has established roots in Toronto, Sudbury, Vancouver, Johannesburg and Zambia.

It seems that no matter how well prepared an individual makes themselves when taking on an important position, there’s always something about the job that hits them unexpectedly.  It’s no different for Dr. Jobin-Bevans, but luckily for him, it’s been all positive.

“What surprised me is the amount of respect the president of the PDAC gets internationally,” he reveals.  “There’s a lot of political clout in that position.  Even although you’ve been exposed effectively to the goings-on of the association for four years before you take it on, but people really do have a lot of time for the president of the PDAC. I was able to pick up the phone with a lot more confidence when talking with people.”

Despite his extremely hectic schedule, Jobin-Bevans manages to keep in shape with various athletic activities as well.  In fact, he had a two-year stint of playing Australian Rules Football with a team called the Broadview Hawks as a pocket forward. Hockey is another passion.

“The Aussies ruled the field during the summer, but the Canadians ruled the rink in the winter,” he laughs. 

It was Jobin-Bevans who created the annual Caracle Creek hockey tournament, held annually at York University in Toronto for the past five years.  It’s now grown into a 16-team, 256-player tournament and takes place on the Saturday prior to the PDAC Convention. All proceeds go towards supporting PDAC Mining Matters, a charitable organization dedicated to educating students, teachers and the public about geoscience and the importance of mineral resources.

Incoming President Glenn Nolan

Glenn Nolan got his start in the industry by attending Sault College in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. for the Geological Technician program and he began working in mine settings as far back as high school in 1975 due primarily to his love of the outdoors – as opposed to indoor work.
But mining wasn’t always necessarily the main goal he had in mind. 

“Once I realized there was a whole exploration field out there where you could work and get paid, and be in the bush, that was it, this is what I wanted to do,” Nolan tells CBJ.

Thunder Bay, Ont. is now where Nolan calls his home, but he’s lived a good part of his life in Atikokan, which is Ojibwa for “caribou bones.” He’s also worked in B.C. and Saskatchewan as well as the high Arctic.  Additionally, he ran a prospector’s company from 1982 until 1989.

“The reason I stepped away from the industry at that time was because my kids were at an age where they wanted me more at home,” Nolan reveals.  “I was able to find something closer to home and didn’t have to leave as long.  I did that for a number of years until I became Chief of the Missanabie Cree First Nations community.” It was during this time that Nolan really came to recognize there was a huge gap between companies that were required to come and have discussions with the northern communities and the communities themselves that didn’t understand anything about mining.  Because of the troublesome disconnect, Nolan took action.

“I started with my own community to reach out to companies and ask them come speak to us to talk about their project and how we could work with them to provide a service or supplying them with something,” Nolan states.  “From there it was a fairly easy transition on advising other communities to do the same.”
Because he was the trailblazer who is largely credited with being the instrumental force in bringing the two sides much closer together, Nolan’s name would often come up with other companies in terms of how they should approve various communities in a timely and respectful manner.
While there’s no doubt Nolan prefers the great outdoors, during his career in business and as Chief of his community, he’s had to spend a great deal of time in an office setting, so he’s quite comfortable in that role, when necessary. 

“As for coming into the role as president of the PDAC, when I started my career that was never something that I aspired to do,” Nolan candidly admits.  “Even five years ago I didn’t have any kind of aspiration to be the president.  It’s just one of those things that happened and it’s allowed me to build a better relationship between the indigenous groups here in Canada and the industry.  I thought this was a really neat transition for me to bring my sensitivities to Aboriginal issues but also my understanding of the industry itself and how I can create that as a bridge between the two and work together to maximize the benefits for everyone.”

Nolan became part of the PDAC in 2004 where he sat on a number of committees, including Aboriginal Affairs and Convention Planning.  He was also the Vice President, Aboriginal Affairs for Noront Resources and First Vice President of the PDAC. Stronger communication is the main key to moving the relationship forward.  It’s estimated Aboriginal Canadians currently make up about 7.5 per cent of the national mining workforce.

In 2006, PDAC launched its Aboriginal Program at the annual winter Toronto convention. In the six years that have followed, it has grown exponentially in terms of attracting more self-identified Aboriginal delegates. In terms of bridging the gap between First Nations people and the companies doing business in their communities, Nolan uniquely sees it from both sides in terms of the amount of progress being made.

“If I look at it from a First Nations perspective, I’d say we’re not going fast enough or far enough, but from an industry point of view we’re probably moving at the speed we need to move at,” Nolan declares. “Companies don’t want to take too many risks.  They’re entrepreneurs first and so anything that’s out there that’s new to them – they’re really reluctant to move forward on it because it’s going to cost them something; either time or project delays, which costs extra money.”

Being in such a role as the PDAC president requires a great deal of diplomacy and tact, but also the forcefulness to hold firm when it’s in the best interests of fairness and prosperity.

“I think that every person out there believes their project is going to solve all the world’s problems, or at least the region’s problems, so they tend to come at from a view ‘I know what’s right and what’s best for everyone’ and they talk about how the project will create jobs and revenue, and there’s no need to worry about the environment.  But the communities also have a mouth and a perspective and voice that needs to be heard.  If we’re not listening as developers, the communities are going to have a lot of pushback. We always need to show empathy.”

Right from the outset of Nolan’s two-year mandate as president of the PDAC, a brand new strategic planning session is being organized which he will be a key part of, along with the other board members, with the aim of generating a strong mandate over the next five years.

“My goals include being more effective listeners when it comes to issues plaguing Aboriginal communities here in Canada and throughout the world,” Nolan continues.  “I would like to see the PDAC be more effective in reaching out to those groups and we have the companies that can do it combined with our programs.” 

“We’ve been effective over the last five years in lobbying the government to understand what it is that we do and the value that exploration companies bring to the Canadian economy and the wellbeing of Canadian citizens,” Nolan remarks.  “As taxpayers, we should be concerned about how much money is going into a hole in each of these communities where we aren’t seeing positive change, but are only hearing of the negative problems of inequity on spending or development.”  

Due to his wealth of experience, Nolan has often been asked to speak with a number of foreign lawmakers about how to better engage the indigenous population so that they can participate on a more equal footing with projects that are in their backyard.  Nolan is very grateful for the fact his company, Noront, is supportive and recognizes that taking on the role as president of the PDAC will take him away from his day-to-day job from time-to-time.
“I’m extremely excited – it’s a real honour to be the incoming president.  I think of the roots of my family, where my dad came from, my mother, what they sacrificed and them making myself and brothers and sisters realize there’s nothing we can’t do.  We’re not limited to being hunters and gatherers only, or guides, or manual labourers.  My close family and relatives have demonstrated that.  They’ve all advanced their families and saw their children go to the next step, just like every other Canadian family’s dream – that their children can do better.”

Executive Director Ross Gallinger

Ross Gallinger was educated at the University of British Columbia and brings nearly three decades of industry experience with him.  He’s held positions in community relations, environment and health with Placer Dome Canada, BHP Billiton, Rio Algom, Noranda and Westmin.

Much like Glenn Nolan, the mining industry is not something Gallinger had originally set his career path towards.  In fact, he started out in a university chemistry program, but wasn’t overly optimistic about the career opportunities that would likely open up with a chemistry degree.  Gallinger’s family came from a strong forestry background and so he decided to investigate that idea as an alternative, but he was too late to be accepted into the program.  From there, he literally walked across the hall to the Faculty of Agriculture where he was fascinated by what it had to offer.  Through that program, he stumbled upon an activity of assisting the mining business in rehabilitation which got him into the industry, with a degree in agriculture.

During his career in mining, Gallinger has travelled to many places throughout the world, including a large portion of South America, including the likes of Chile, Argentina and Peru. 

“With regards to South America, the only countries I`ve never been to are: Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia,” Gallinger reveals. “This business has taken me to every other country in South America.  To me the exciting part is the people in this business.  I’ve really grown from meeting a number of people from different cultures.”

Prior to taking on the role as the PDAC Executive Director, Gallinger was Senior Vice President of Health, Safety & Sustainability for IAMGOLD.  During his time at IAMGOLD, he developed and introduced the Zero Harm Policy, which led to noticeable improvements in the company’s health and safety record.  It also earned awards from Algonquin College, the PDAC and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).  

Gallinger is a founding member and served as co-chair of the Devonshire Initiative, a group of leading Canadian development NGOs and extractive companies.  He was also Chair of the Operating Committee of the International Network for Acid Prevention and is on the PDAC’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee.

Gallinger says the first six months with the PDAC have been absolutely incredible.

“It’s been a wonderful experience to pick up on the details of the programs I knew about such as Mining Matters and learning about our activities supporting the mineral exploration tax credit and geoscience,” he says.

“The other thing I’ve been working on is developing a new strategy for PDAC.  I’ll be working with the board right after the convention to start mapping that out by looking at what we’re doing and listening to other members which will really key into making change for the future that will resonate with the membership and really see this organization lead the exploration sector.”

PDAC has attained outstanding growth and evolution, but it’s Gallinger’s contention that it’s going to be crucial to identify the challenges that face the industry both in the near and long term, and continue to be more proactive and be less reactive. That includes advocacy efforts and consultations with the federal and provincial governments in Canada.

“We do have many conversations with government on a variety of issues,” Gallinger confirms.  “We also talk about the benefits of the business.  Traditionally, we’ve had a very good reputation.  I expect that we will see quite a few people from the federal government attending our conventions. To continue that aspect of being a thought-leader in this space of the exploration business as well as provide education and try to improve best practices for the members and advocate on issues that affect the business,” Gallinger continues.  “I’m definitely for being much more aggressive and having some very exciting things for the members and society to benefit from this mineral development business.”

“I’ve really grown from meeting a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures and I’ve been very impressed and desired to continue on in this business after hearing stories about people who weren’t in this business and were struggling financially, who then got a job in the mining business and the opportunities it’s provided their families,” Gallinger enthusiastically states.  “It’s the different cultures I’ve been able to see; it’s the fact I’ve been able to visit places that are right off the tourist map and really participate in projects that have made a meaningful different in improving people’s lives.”

Health and safety issues have always been a primary objective of Gallinger and he will continue that with the PDAC.  In fact, the organization has just recently completed a wilderness guide for people out in the field.   Gallinger is also of the opinion the organization is meant to represent Canadians on a global scale.  
“We represent Canadians wherever they operate, getting away from the border aspect of the business, because there really are no borders around us.  We will still have a large Canadian focus and help represent the provincial organizations on a national level but also how we can represent those members on an international basis as well.”

Mining Matters

PDAC’s Mining Matters initiative is another way the organization is reaching out proactively in an effort to attract the thousands of new workers that are anticipated to be needed over the next decade. For the past 18 years the program has been providing instructors a bilingual curriculum kit on rocks, metals, minerals and mining for Grades 4 to 7. More recently, a curriculum was developed for high school kids. Gallinger is exceptionally proud of the program’s initiatives and achievements to date.

“We create a geoscience module for public school education, we train teachers on delivering a geoscience module in the class, and it’s really to allow kids in school to understand what geoscience is and the minerals exploration business.  A secondary aspect is for kids to think of the mining business and geoscience as a future career. “

With so much experience in the industry, there’s not a lot that is going to take Gallinger by surprise, but he did note there was one aspect which somewhat opened his eyes.

“I guess what surprised me was the convention part of it; how much goes in to the organization – how well it’s run, the professionalism of the convention staff.  It’s both amazing and a pleasure.  I’m very impressed with the crew we have here.”