UBC Reports | Vol. 59 | No. 2 | Feb. 6, 2013

Silvana Costa (centre) with community relations staff at New Gold's Cerro San Pedro mine information centre in Mexico. Courtesy Silvana Costa Photograph

Silvana Costa (centre) with community relations staff at New Gold's Cerro San Pedro mine information centre in Mexico. Courtesy Silvana Costa Photograph

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“All the engineering in the world won’t guarantee success if you can’t get buy-in from the local community and government, and convince shareholders that the mine will operate sustainably and without jeopardizing human rights and the environment.”

Mining engineering head Bern Klein (left) and Mongolian PhD student Zorig Davaanyam.

UBC partners with Mongolia

When Mongolia’s Oyu Tolgoi mine begins production this spring, the country takes another giant step away from its traditional nomadic herding economy. This will represent the country’s largest-ever financial undertaking—with production of gold and copper projected to account for a third of gross domestic product.

The plan is for Oyu Tolgoi to be socially responsible, environmentally sustainable and beneficial to communities around it—thanks in part to UBC’s Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering.
Three years ago, the Keevil Institute reached an agreement with the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) to help train engineers for Oyu Tolgoi. Forty-seven Mongolian students are on track to graduate from UBC this year with a Certificate in Mining Studies, in time to join the new operation.

Last March, the Keevil Institute and the UBC Institute of Asian Research signed a memorandum of understanding with Mongolia’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to advance and promote best practices in mining. The new partnership involves further research exchanges with MUST, and with industry support, scholarships for Mongolian students to obtain Masters  of Engineering degrees at UBC.
Last summer, five UBC mining engineering professors travelled to Oyu Tolgoi and delivered courses on mine design and planning, rock mechanics, and asset management.

Bern Klein, head of the Keevil Institute, says UBC’s expertise is in demand because its technical know-how is delivered within the context of environmental impact mitigation, sustainability, good governance, community health and corporate social responsibility—and because of its strong ties with global mining corporations.

“We are making an indelible impact here, not by mimicking what others are doing, but by building on our expertise and experience, and sharing those strengths globally.”

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