Anyone who spends time in both of Canada’s biggest mining centres will quickly pick up on the differences in culture between the two mining communities. Vancouver is generally younger, more outdoorsy and entrepreneurial, while Toronto is broadly older, urban and more corporate. In Vancouver, mining types will brag about what they did after work and socialize regularly in the Howe Street district, while in Toronto they’ll brag about how many hours they’ve worked, and dutifully head straight home after leaving the office.
And so it’s no surprise that it was in Vancouver that the Young Mining Professionals (YMP) group was founded in 2007 by three 30-something accountants and mining executives named Greg D. Smith, Scott Jeffrey and Rohan Hazelton — all with various ties to the mining industry in Vancouver, particularly to accounting giant KPMG.
The trio continues as the branch’s sole directors to this day, with help from executive officers Daniel Dickson, Geoff Miachika, Devon Thiara, Jennifer Poirier and Andrew Nelson, as well as corporate sponsors KPMG, Endeavour Silver, Goldcorp and law firm Cassels Brock.
Their goal was to create a group where keen mining professionals aged 25 to 39 and out of school for a few years could get together to obtain the skills, support and knowledge to better advance their careers, develop industry contacts and identify career and mining-related investment opportunities.
Since then, YMP in Vancouver has had several events a year, ranging from dinner speeches by local mining luminaries to social lunches at the Vancouver Club and pro-am golf tournaments. Their most recent gathering was a Distinguished Speaker event with newly installed Goldcorp president and CEO David Garofalo.
Meanwhile back in Toronto, a young mining professional named Stephen Stewart — currently CEO of junior gold explorer Orefinders Resources and CEO of private mining group Minerx — had been familiar with YMP’s many years of success in Vancouver, looked around for a similar group in Toronto and came up empty-handed.
Undaunted, Stewart decided he wanted to start a YMP branch in Toronto that would run independently, but in harmony with the Vancouver branch. He contacted YMP’s founders and they set him up with Michael Woeller and Micheal Long, who are both accountants with KPMG. The three of them co-founded YMP’s Toronto branch in 2015, with help from executive officers Sophia Harquail and Jamie Litchen.
YMP’s Toronto branch is sponsored by KPMG, Barrick Gold, Minerx and Cassels Brock. Franco-Nevada has also been an event sponsor, and Hy’s Steakhouse has been a location sponsor.
YMP’s Toronto branch was launched on a high note with their first gathering in October: a Distinguished Speaker event with Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk in an intimate dinner setting at the posh Hy’s Steakhouse in Toronto, where 30 or so young mining professionals got to speak informally with legend himself and hear his career advice. Stewart says Munk told him he might get a hundred such speaking invitations a year, but only accepts 1% of them.
YMP’s Toronto branch followed up with similar speaker events at Hy’s in February and June, with Franco Nevada co-founder Pierre Lassonde and McEwen Mining CEO Rob McEwen holding court and dispensing hard-won wisdom. Next up is another speaker night on Oct. 6 with Thomas Kaplan, the billionaire gold investor and chairman of investment firm Electrum Group.
Not a bad record for a one-year-old group.
If you’re an eager-beaver young mining professional in Canada and would like to join either branch, YMP has a website at www.youngminingprofessionals.com, but the two branches conduct much of their business through separate LinkedIn accounts.
There’s no membership fee, but you need to ask to join the group. YMP Toronto has 101 members on LinkedIn while YMP Vancouver has 241, so Toronto has some catching up to do.