Canada's leadership in sustainable natural resources practices and technologies — and the events that fuel this industry — stands out in the global mining industry. Abundant deposits of oil, natural gas, nickel, copper, uranium and many other resources make this northern destination a trailblazing leader in North America. With its 200 active mines, Canada ranks among the top five global producers of 15 metals and minerals, which are incorporated into vehicles, computers and smartphones, and are vital to the low carbon technology required for a greener future.
Canada's dominance in this sector is reflected by the successful events it hosts regularly, such as Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) the world's premier mineral exploration and mining conference held annually in Toronto. Whether it's a geoscience forum and trade show or an annual celebration of mining history and innovation, these international gatherings promote B2B exchanges, collaboration and knowledge transfers in the natural resources industry. Add to this Canada's spectacular mountains, lakes and forests, and organizers have the perfect backdrop to boost delegate attendance at their next meeting.
Here's how two Canadian centers of excellence in natural resources are driving innovation, diversity and inclusion in this sector, and how these destinations can help planners leverage Canadian knowledge capital to create memorable meetings with purpose.
The Yukon: Where pristine landscape meets promising R&D
As Canada's westernmost territory, the Yukon is a bucket-list destination where breathtaking views of clear water and the earthy aroma of the tundra await. Unspoiled wilderness covers close to 80 percent of the region, which boasts 16,000-foot peaks, lush forests and wildlife species to experience up close.
"The Yukon is a world-class jurisdiction for a safe, responsible, modern and collaborative mining industry. Part of that is bringing people together to talk about ways to do things better, understand each other, and promote mining as the Yukon's economic engine," says Ed Peart, president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines and former president of the Yukon Convention Bureau. "The Yukon has productive mines — from hard-rock mining to placer mining to prospecting — and a very engaged and vibrant service supply sector."
The region hosts several events that draw thousands of people, including the Yukon Geoscience Forum and Trade Show and Mining Week, adds Peart, who also manages corporate charters for Air North, Yukon's Airline. The 2019 Geoscience event, which drew more than 700 delegates from around the world, focused on First Nations partnerships, innovation, inclusion and diversity.
One of the area's success stories, Yukon Women in Mining, has been collaborating with Indigenous communities, government and women's groups since 2012 to support and promote the northern region's industry. The organization fosters community-building and education, and uses virtual- and augmented-reality technology to encourage young people to explore employment opportunities in the sector.
“The Yukon is a world-class jurisdiction for a safe, responsible, modern and collaborative mining industry. Part of that is bringing people together to talk about ways to do things better, understand each other, and promote mining as the Yukon’s economic engine."
—Ed Peart, president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines and former president of the Yukon Convention Bureau
The Yukon's mining-related research and development projects allow planners to tap a wealth of expertise. The 2020 Yukon Innovation Prize was awarded to Yukoner Stephan Weissenberg, who designed the world's first hydrogen fuel cell snowmobile. The project's focus on affordable clean energy and durable design is expected to outperform battery hybrid alternatives. At the YukonU Research Centre's (YRC) state-of-the-art lab in Whitehorse, the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining brings together researchers and industry to advance R&D while making the industry more sustainable. Some of YRC's most promising projects include industrial environment restoration and reclamation and reducing the contaminant build-up in recycled process water.
The Yukon's majestic setting also appeals to other groups seeking memorable experiences.
Some of the unique activities that planners can book include dog-sledding and flying over Kluane National Park — home of Canada's highest peak and the world's largest non-polar icefield.
Sudbury, Ontario: A city recognized globally for its environmental stewardship
As the regional service hub for northeastern Ontario, Greater Sudbury draws conferences, trade shows and meetings thanks to its international reputation for entrepreneurial thinkers and modern underground mining innovation.
This accessible and culturally diverse region — close to 100 international flags line the Bridge of Nations downtown to honor its many ethnicities — also boasts 330 lakes. And of course, there's the Big Nickel greeting visitors: a nearly 30-foot-high Canadian nickel, and nod to Sudbury's history at the center of the world's nickel production for most of the 20th century.
Greater Sudbury houses top R&D science centers and government agencies, including the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation, the NORCAT and the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation, plus three post-secondary institutions — all of which offer subject matter experts to round out conference speakers lists. Significant research in mining, health and the environment is being done at Collège Boréal's recently opened Applied Research Centre for Biodiversity as well as Cambrian College's Centre for Smart Mining and Laurentian University's Living with Lakes Centre, while NORCAT is expanding its underground training and testing facility, used to develop emerging mining tech.
"Sudbury continues to solidify its leadership role as a global mining innovation hub," says Meredith Armstrong, Greater Sudbury's director of economic development. "We are a leader in the development and adaptation of technologies for mining in the digital age with the adoption of automation and electrification in our mining practices."
The region welcomes prestigious events, like 2019's Australian Centre for Geomechanics' Underground Mining Technology Conference and 2021's 12th International Mining History Congress, slated to be held at Laurentian University.
One reason that groups choose Sudbury stems from its wildly successful regreening effort. A century of mining, smelting, logging and fires left high levels of sulphur dioxide in the air and metals in the earth, eliminating more than 80,000 hectares of vegetation in Sudbury, resulting in soil erosion, poisoned lakes and loss of wildlife habitat. The barren lands even exposed the remnants of a meteorite that struck Sudbury 1.87 billion years earlier, revealing geological formations so similar to the moon that NASA astronauts used the landscape for space mission trainings in the 1970s.
"Our city is recognized as a world leader in environmental practices and sustainability, as countries from around the world look to our very successful regreening and remediation initiatives."
—Meredith Armstrong, Greater Sudbury’s director of economic development
But in 1978, Sudbury launched one of the largest land reclamation efforts in the world. Partnerships between government, industry, academic institutions and residents transformed the city into a thriving ecosystem. Research centers including Vale's Living With Lakes were set up to monitor and document the initiative, which enabled thousands of stakeholders and volunteers to help in the regreening of their community. Experts discovered that nature can restore itself better than an aggressive engineered approach.
After liming and grassing 3,400-plus hectares and planting 15 million trees and 80,000 shrubs, the city received the 1992 UN Local Government Honors Award for its regreening efforts. Today, Sudbury is known as an environmental restoration rock star. While there's still considerable work to be done, Sudbury's restoration is considered groundbreaking. Planners can incorporate self-guided tours of the Jane Goodall Reclamation Trail, featuring impacted landscapes and the positive results of regreening.
"Our city is recognized as a world leader in environmental practices and sustainability, as countries from around the world look to our very successful regreening and remediation initiatives. We're proud to host international delegations that look to Sudbury for our expertise and innovation," says Armstrong.
In Canada, natural resources leaders will find support from federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as academia and innovation investors and one of the world's easiest visa regimes. Further simplifying the business process is the pool of destination and sector experts provided by Destination Canada Business Events. The team's specific knowledge of this vast land and its sector expertise makes Destination Canada Business Events team an organizer's first stop for tailoring the right package for their event, whatever the size. To learn about assets and opportunities and (arrange research trips and site inspections) go to businesseventscanada.ca.
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