Almost everything we touch in the modern world has been extracted or harvested for the multi billion-dollar demands of global markets. The metals and minerals used in the device you might be reading this on had to be mined, refined and processed to take its current form. As our understanding of ecological and environmental impacts of resource development grows, mining companies are responding with better assessments, reporting, and energy transition and reclamation plans.

Helping to ease that shift to a more sustainable future is our Mining group, led by vice president Aziz Sene. His approach incorporates newly developed technologies, safer practices and an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, where he has paid attention to minimizing the gender gap in the industry. His growing portfolio of work is focused in the Greater Sudbury area, but his team is primed for expansion into some of the many other resource-rich areas in North America and the world.

“EXP’s network of engineering experts and support offers an impactful difference for our clients,” says Aziz. “They are looking for innovative solutions for their immediate needs, including emissions reduction technologies for above or below ground. Because of our diverse team, who brings varying perspectives and expertise, we have the ability to get it done.”

A diverse team and optimized solutions

Four individuals who have been key to the team’s success are senior structural engineer Rena Liu; electrical engineer-in-training Nahid Shekari; senior mechanical engineer Tina Reid and mining engineer-in-training Ivy Chen. Together, they are having an impact on our clients’ priorities and charting a sustainable path forward.

After working in China for 14 years, Rena Liu immigrated to Canada in 2003 and worked with Canadian consulting companies on structural engineering design projects for 15 years. With EXP since 2021, Rena is now a senior structural engineer performing structural integrity inspections and assessments of phase I and II with clients such as Vale.

For Rena, it’s all about the results. “Recently, when preparing to conduct an ore handling system structure inspection for a client, the mine supervisor asked if I would be going underground to do the inspection, given that not many females have performed this task,” explains Rena. “That day, I performed the structural inspection on the surface and underground, up to 6,000 feet deep, including climbing and high underground temperature. Only perfect results can prove that I’m qualified, no matter if I’m male or female. I’m proud that I completed the job and met all the client’s requirements despite the initial assumption that I might not be able to.”

When team member Tina immigrated to Canada from China in 2000, she realized that her background of cement/concrete/refractory design background didn’t offer her enough opportunities. She went to study at the University of Toronto in the mining and mineral processing program and successfully obtained her P.Eng. license in 2010. Since then, Tina worked at global mining engineering firms on international mining and metals EPCM projects as a senior mechanical engineer.

With EXP since May 2021 as Central Ontario mining mechanical lead, Tina is a witness of how the mining industry is shifting towards sustainable and environmentally sound practices. “The extractives in the mining industry cause dramatic impacts on the natural environment and human health,” comments Tina. “I’m proud to contribute to more sustainable and safer practices by providing optimized engineering solutions that achieve high standards of health and safety of operations.”

Ivy, who recently graduated from University of Toronto with a major in mineral engineering, has been working on Vale’s North Atlantic Operations Water Management Program. Choosing a field that is male dominated can be intimidating but for Ivy, the hiring process at EXP was a differentiator. “What really impressed me was that when Aziz and Ian Vesterback (director of engineering, mining at EXP), interviewed me, I could feel that my experience was valued,” explains Ivy. “They explained their vision, ambition as well as the liveliness of the sector, and the opportunities for all, which I have never experienced before. And that’s the point when I decided to join EXP.”

Nahid comes to us from Iran, where she studied and trained in electrical engineering. When she moved to Canada, she found her experience to be directly transferable, having worked in manufacturing and engineering, procurement and construction on major industrial projects. Today, Nahid is upgrading the electrical systems at mine sites that have been in operation for generations. The upgrades will increase efficiency and reduce emissions for the remainder of the mine’s life.

“It’s such a collaborative environment that I’m always excited to get to site and work directly with our clients,” explains Nahid. “They value our expertise and it’s a big reason why our scope of work keeps increasing!”

The mining team has a vision for growth that is centered around optimized solutions, diverse and talented team members and client satisfaction. With each new project and change request, our people are responding and delivering with the same knowledge and passion that is evident across all our markets and services. This makes diversity even more important: inclusivity and fostering a culture of varied perspectives is proving to be the way to more creative, innovative and productive teams.

*Originally published in EXP’s Expresso: Shaping Tomorrow