"Mining engineering intersects with so many different areas – from law, human resources and finance to operations, community engagement and environmental protection."
- Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
- Grad year: 2001
- Campus: Vancouver
Job title: Vice President, Planning & Strategy, Base Metals at Teck Resources
Why did you want to study engineering?
I had always enjoyed sciences and math and was interested in building things. In Grade 12, there was a program at my high school in Campbell River where you could do a one-week unpaid work experience to learn more about potential careers. I did a week with the Ministry of Transportation when they were starting to lay the groundwork for the new Inland Island Highway Bypass and I was hooked. I was intrigued by the design work and was interested in the fieldwork as the crews were doing surveys. Engineering seemed like a great career to help build things and contribute to society.
Why did you choose UBC?
There were several reasons, but one was that the first year of studies was a general engineering program. I thought I was interested in mechanical or civil engineering, but I wasn’t entirely sure. I liked that I didn’t have to jump into a decision right in first year.
Why did you choose mining engineering?
I was attracted to the incredible possibilities offered by a career in mining, in terms of opportunities for travel, the type of work you can do and the pay scale, which was far higher than that in other engineering disciplines.
What were some highlights of your undergraduate experience?
Co-op was a definite highlight. I was able to travel and work in different operations across the province and I could see the impact you could have as a mining engineer. The work placements complemented what I was learning in class, giving me experience working with all sorts of people and diversifying my skill set.
Tell us about your career since graduation.
I started at Teck Resources, working at the Highland Valley Copper Mine near Kamloops. Within six months I had a relatively senior planning role on the site, looking after short term planning for the mining operation. About five years in I moved into long-term planning and was able to help extend the life of the operation about three times, for an additional 15 years.
Once I got into long-term planning, I realized I could apply my environmental ethic into my career to ensure the responsible development of mining assets. After moving up through site-level roles, I was asked to join the corporate team in Vancouver to expand what I’d done at Highland Valley across the rest of our metals business globally. In my current role as Vice President, Planning & Strategy, Base Metals, I’m able to use my passion for sustainability to direct and influence how we can use our resources to their fullest extent.
In what ways do mining engineers make a positive impact in our world?
Society is moving towards decarbonization. That can’t happen without a significant increase in the supply of key metals, with copper being a prime example: if we are serious about meeting our 1.5°C Paris Agreement target by 2050, the world will need to double global copper production.
For people who want to be part of the green, low-carbon future, working in mining means you can help find socially and environmentally responsible ways to develop projects to produce the critical metals needed for low-carbon technologies and innovations.
Anything else you want to add?
Being a mining engineer opens up incredible and diverse career opportunities.
The skill set you learn as a mining engineer is, I think, broader than that for other engineering disciplines because you are required to take courses from across all other engineering specializations.
That gives you a solid foundation in all aspects of engineering.
Mining engineering also intersects with so many different areas – from law, human resources and finance to operations, community engagement and environmental protection. As a mining engineer, you can focus on one or more of these areas. It’s very exciting to develop solutions that are specific to a site and project – you can’t just pull a playbook off the shelf, so as an individual you can play a very significant role in the success of your team, project and organization.