GMG Montreal Forum Speaker Karthik R

AI in Mining Forum (Montreal): Speakers Abstracts and Bios

Karthik Ramakrishnan, Head of Advisory and Enablement, Element AI

Presentation Title: Mining opportunities and strategy at the AI frontier: Lessons from adjacent industries


Machine learning is already in widespread use in the mining industry, and other industries are now rapidly discovering its benefits—but will mining keep up? As artificial intelligence has crossed from early adopter to early majority status across industries, so have AI techniques and applications grown in number. To stay ahead, mining leaders can benefit from early lessons discovered in surrounding industries around identifying AI opportunities and developing long-term strategy with AI. In this talk, we use data and examples to provide guidance for how mining leaders can close gaps in both opportunity discovery and strategy at the AI frontier.


Karthik Ramakrishnan leads the Advisory and Enablement team at Element AI. He advises executive leadership of global organisations on their AI-first strategy and vision and helps to build their research and execution capabilities to achieve their AI ambitions. He holds a Master of Applied Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Waterloo, and an MBA from the Ivey Business School at Western University in Canada. Karthik is a seasoned entrepreneur, speaker, and leader in Canada’s technology ecosystem. He has founded a series of technology start-ups, including Gallop Labs and Blu Trumpet, and he also serves as an advisor to multiple start-ups. Before joining Element AI, Karthik was a Senior Manager at Deloitte. Earlier in his career, he served as Director of Product Innovation at Xtreme Labs and GM of Product Development at Hatch Labs in New York.

Mohammad Babaei, Lead, Digital Mining Innovation, Teck

Presentation: Using machine learning to improve haul cycle productivity


Dr. Mohammad Babaei has worked in a variety of contexts including open pit mines, consultancies, and universities. In his current role at Teck, he guides and supports digital innovations that improve safety, sustainability and productivity. For example, he led projects applying machine learning in mining and maintenance and developing a unique real-time diggability solution. He holds a PhD in Mining Engineering from the University of British Columbia and published several scientific papers and won several awards for his work. In 2017, he was featured CIM Magazine as one of their “Names to Know” feature. In 2018, he received one of the CIM-Bedford Canadian Young Mining Leaders Awards.

Jean-Marc Rousseau, Director of Technology Transfer, Ivado

Presentation Title: The Role of IVADO in the Montreal AI Eco-System


IVADO has been created to regroup the Montreal internationally recognized expertise in both Operation Research and Machine Learning In 2016, IVADO was a awarded one of the largest grant of the Canada First Excellence Research Fund: 93,5 M$. This award was the signal for a large number of significant investment in AI in Montreal including the Quebec Institute of AI (MILA) (100M$), and SCALE.AI a super cluster in AI powered supply chain (230M$), as well as in the private domain ElementAI. In this context we will describe how IVADO is pursuing its mission of contributing to the advancement of knowledge in data science and training the next generation of data scientist while creating partnership between industries and universities research for the creation of a new economy.


Jean-Marc Rousseau is currently the director of Technology Transfert at IVADO (Institute for Data valorization). He earned a PhD in operations research from MIT in 1973. He went on to hold a professorial appointment in the Department of Computer Science and Operations Research at Université de Montréal (1973–1992) and served as the director of the Centre de recherche sur les transports, which became the CIRRELT (1979–1987). He is the co-founder of GIRO inc. (1979) and was vice-president Business Development up to 2000, Chairman of the Board (2000-2017) and was the chief executive officer of CIRANO (2002–2005). In 2011, he joined Anges Québec as an advisor to start-ups. He also sits on several boards of directors and advisory committees. He is the author of over 80 scientific publications and has received 13 awards and honours in his career.

Roussos Dimitrakopoulos, Professor and CRC (Tier I), COSMO – Stochastic Mine Planning Laboratory, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec

Presentation: Artificial Intelligence for Mining Complexes: Self-learning, deep neural networks and real-time adaptation of production scheduling


A mining complex or mineral value chain is an integrated business which starts with the extraction of materials and results in a set of sellable products delivered to customers and/or spot market. The optimization of this integrated business is a challenge with respect to production scheduling and related metal production in the presence of new technologies including advanced sensors and monitoring devices. A new generation of artificial intelligence methods provides the means to develop new approaches which offer major production improvements. A framework starting from the AlphaGo program of Google DeepMind is presented; it combines Monte Carlo tree search and deep neural network in a self-play reinforcement learning algorithm. The deep neural network evaluates the short-term production decisions in a mining complex and in parallel, perform searches using Monte Carlo tree search to gather experience from new information which is then used to train the deep neural network. An application at a major copper mining complex shows exceptional performance for adapting short-term production schedules in real-time with new incoming information to better meet different production targets.


Roussos is a Professor, Canada Research Chair (Tier I) in Sustainable Mineral Resource Development and Optimisation under Uncertainty, and Director, COSMO – Stochastic Mine Planning Laboratory. He holds a PhD from École Polytechnique de Montréal and an MSc from the University of Alberta. He works on risk-based optimization for strategic mine planning and the simultaneous optimization of mining complexes and mineral value chains under uncertainty, as well as short-term production planning integrating artificial intelligence methods. He as a long-standing partnership with AngloGold Ashanti, Barrick Gold, BHP, De Beers, IAMGOLD, Kinross Gold, Newmont Mining and Vale to support this research. He has worked and taught in North America, Australia, South America, Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and Japan. Web:

Charles Fleurent, Senior director – Optimization algorithms, Giro

Presentation: Software tools for transit scheduling and optimization


Public transit scheduling presents several important challenges that provide opportunities for optimization. Over the past forty years, the Montréal-based software company GIRO has been successful in applying operations research models and optimization algorithms to enable many transit operators worldwide to reduce costs and improve service quality. In this presentation, we will describe some of the important problems that have to be solved in public transit, which could help to identify similar opportunities in the mining sector.


Dr. Charles Fleurent is Senior director of optimization algorithms at GIRO ( Dr. Fleurent has a PhD in Operations Research and Computer Science from the University of Montréal and spent a year (1995) as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Since that time, he has worked at GIRO where he is now in charge of the development team for optimization algorithms of the HASTUS software. Dr. Fleurent is the author of several scientific papers published in journals such as Operations Research, INFORMS Journal on Computing, Annals of Operations Research andTransportation Research Part A. He also is a Senior Editor for the Public Transport journal that is edited by Springer.

Julien Crowe, Information Technology Leader, Artificial Intelligence, National Bank

Presentation Title: AI challenges in financial services


Artificial intelligence (AI) awareness has risen sharply in the market recently, generating great opportunities for businesses but significant challenges: the supply of talent has not increased in line with demand, the mindset of the community remains strongly focused on academic research and the trickiness of deploying AI in business processes has remained largely ignored in all but the most advanced organisations. On top of these challenges, there appears to be a growing rift of AI capabilities between tech giants and all others. In this context, how can financial services organisations remain competitive and generate value from AI opportunities? Current challenges faced to build AI teams, key takeaways on how to address these challenges and foreseeable next steps to deploy AI will be discussed.


Julien has lead artificial intelligence initiatives in IT since January 2018. He’s been at the National Bank since August 2016 where he coordinated the Big Data team and managed advanced analytics applied research projects, including collaborations with IVADO (Institute for Data Valorization). He has more than 10 years of experience in data valorization, having held positions as Statistics and Operations Research expert in the Health Care sector, followed by Data Scientist and Marketing Strategy positions in the Financial sector. Julien holds a Doctorate in Business Analytics from HEC Montreal and has strong interests in the valorization of new technologies.

Louis-Pierre Campeau, Research Jr. Engineer, Newtrax

Presentation: Real-world applications of Artificial Intelligence to underground mining


For several years, great changes have been taking place in the underground mines of the world. More and more data is being collected at each stage of the extraction process, at ever-increasing frequency and accuracy. In this context, the use of this data poses new challenges of analysis and prediction. This presentation will discuss the various Machine Learning techniques used to extract value out of this data and examples of real-world applications by Newtrax. Predictive maintenance of mobile equipment and schedule optimization will be covered among other subjects.


Louis-Pierre is a PhD Student in Mathematics and Mining Jr. Engineer. He combines practical knowledge of the mining industry with mathematics to help leverage the power of AI and optimization in this industry.

Michelle Levesque, Engineering Technical Lead – Data-driven Technology, CanmetMINING, Natural Resources

Presentation: Developing an integrated AI and Big Data platform for the Canadian mining sector


CanmetENERGY and CanmetMINING have discussed a collaboration project to develop an integrated AI and Big Data platform to support the Canadian mining sector. The objective of this collaboration project would be to develop an integrated AI and Big Data platform for the mining sector by leveraging the expertise between CanmetENERGY and CanmetMINING. This would be achieved by establishing an AI ecosystem comprising of government, industry and academia. The platform would be developed in partnership with the mining sector and include case studies to demonstrate successes and lessons learned from various use cases. An overview of the project will be presented.


Michelle Levesque is the Engineering Technical Lead for the Data-driven technologies team at CanmetMINING. She has also held a post as a Senior Engineer in Mine/Mill Energy Efficiency and Underground Mine Environment since 2015. Michelle’s focus is on the development of tools and technologies for improving efficiencies with the mining sector, resulting in the implementation of techniques and technologies leading to a more sustainable mining sector. Michelle is a chemist, and also holds a Master’s and a PhD degree in Natural Resources Engineering, all from Laurentian University, with the focus of her research being on energy management for the mining sector. She also holds the Certified Energy Manager designation from the Association of Energy Engineers. In the past 20 years she has worked at Laurentian University, in the paste backfill group at Golder Associates, and as a Researcher in the “Energy, Renewables and Carbon Management” group at MIRARCO.

Julian Lim, Pitram Technical Product Manager, Micromine

Presentation: Automating Load-Haul-Dump Cycle Data Capture with Machine Vision and Deep Neural Networks


Background: Accurate tracking of underground loader activities and material movements from the face can be imprecise due to the difficulties inherent in underground mining. These factors can include lack of communications network, difficulty tracking equipment position and the need to manually record data.

Objective: The primary objective is to take the human element out of the data capture process by using machine vision and different sensors to improve the accuracy of cycle data from loaders. A secondary objective is to use only generic sensors to allow the solution to be deployed at any mine using equipment from any manufacturer.

Method: Using Convolutional Neural Networks, images taken by a camera mounted in the cabin of loaders were analyzed to automatically record loader cycle states.


Julian is the Product Owner and Technical Product Manager for the Pitram Mine Control and Fleet Management solution at Micromine. For the last 8 years he has been involved with both surface and underground mining, working in different regions around the world including Australia, USA, Mexico, Mongolia, Indonesia and China. His day to day involves listening to customers and the industry and working with their development teams to turn those desires into a product they will love.

His passion is technology, and a typical day for Julian starts with listening to his favourite technology and gaming podcasts. In his free time he is an avid gamer and he will try to convince you to join a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym if given the chance.

Michel Gamache, Full professor – Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering, École Polytechnique de Montréal

Presentation Title: Short-Term Planning in Underground Mines


This presentation addresses the problem of short-term planning in underground mines. Specifically, optimization methods used to produce work schedules will be discussed. We will also see how simulation tools or artificial intelligence can be added to these optimization techniques to produce more robust schedules.


Michel Gamache is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering. He obtained a degree in Mining Engineering from the École Polytechnique de Montréal and a PhD in Applied Mathematics (Optimization) from the same school. His research interests include scheduling and production planning in mines, and real-time scheduling including dispatching. With other Polytechnique researchers, he participated in the development of Caterpillar’s MineStar dispatching module.

Andy Chapman, Technical Manager, Mining Solutions, Peck Tech


Andy holds a Bachelor’s of Engineering degree from McGill University in Montreal, Canada and a Master’s of Applied Science from Queen’s University in Kingston. His working career includes 5 years working for Barrick Gold in various roles ranging from on-site engineer to managing new technology implementations at sites worldwide.
Andy started with Peck Tech Consulting Ltd. in April 2014. His initial focus was product management for a mobile 3D mapping technology but has recently moved into a role in senior project management. He is also an active participant in several working groups of the Global Mining Standards Group (GMG), a published author in several prominent mining publications and a frequent speaker at mining conferences and events.

Mark O’Brien, Manager – IS Solutions Delivery, CITIC Pacific Mining


Mark O’Brien currently serves as the Manager for Digital Transformation at CITIC Pacific Mining, the world’s largest magnetite iron ore operation, and China’s largest resources sector investment outside of China. His responsibilities cover strategic engagement with the business, leadership of technology solutions delivery, and ownership of the key application and infrastructure platforms at CPM, across both IT and OT. He has an involvement in mining technology that stretches over 30 years. He is a graduate of Curtin University with a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. Mark is the Chair of the GMG AI in Mining Working Group.

Michel Plourde, Director, Integrated Operations, ArcelorMittal


Michel has 30 years’ experience in the mining industry. His background in mathematics and computer science have seen him occupy various positions in technology related fields. He has held such roles as enterprise solution architect, technology strategy lead and R&D technology senior lead. His primary focus in the past 15 years has been in applying operational research techniques to leading edge technology in order to maximize operations efficiency and productivity in the iron-ore mining industry. He has extensive experience in using digital and technology strategies to bring about operational efficiency improvements and cost savings. In his current position of IT and operations technology manager, he is now continuing to push back the boundaries of digital mining into all facets of the business.

Dave Shook, President & CEO, ShookIT


Dave is the former CTO of Matrikon and has 26 years’ industrial experience in automation and deriving value from analysis of operational data. He has designed asset performance monitoring software installed at hundreds of sites and is a recipient of the DG Fisher Award for Process Systems Engineering. Dave was instrumental in the development of Matrikon’s products and solutions, especially those involving complex data analysis and the integration of data from multiple sources permitting centralized monitoring and management of distributed fleets of assets and large groups of operators. He also defined and managed the company’s R&D and knowledge management programs. Dave has worked in a number of industries over his career, including upstream oil production, gas transmission, refining, petrochemicals, plastics, forest products, mineral processing and wastewater treatment.

Kevin Urbanski, NextAI Entrepreneur and co-founder of Rithmik Solutions


Kevin Urbanski is a NextAI Entrepreneur and co-founder of Rithmik Solutions, which leverages artificial intelligence to help mining companies reduce downtime, increase productivity and improve the safety of their mobile equipment. His experience includes 12 years in industrial measurement, analytics and automation. For Channel Systems Incorporated, he designed and implemented custom measurement, automation, machine vision and spectral imaging systems. At Matrikon/Honeywell, he was Technical Lead for the hardware interface of the Mobile Equipment Monitor solution. He was instrumental in discovering protocols that enabled data gathering, and he traveled to mines around North and South America interfacing the data collection hardware to various types of mobile equipment. After his time at Matrikon, he worked on the real-time systems team at Teck Resources, supporting and helping the company leverage their Mobile Equipment Monitor implementation as well as other data-driven solutions within maintenance, reliability and operations. He’s passionate about applying Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to industry-specific problems.

Heather Ednie, Managing Director, GMG


Heather Ednie is an influential mining professional who has more than 20 years’ experience in the sector, developing and spearheading vital business solutions through communications and association management.

Since 2012, she has been the Managing Director of Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG), a network of representatives from mining companies, OEMs, OTMs, research organizations and consultants around the world who recognize that innovation does not happen in silos. GMG creates multi-stakeholder working groups to systematically remove the impediments to building safe, sustainable and innovative mines of the future.

Prior to joining GMG she led a young communications consulting firm, Modica Communications, focused on serving the Canadian mining sector with the aim of advancement of a safe, responsible and respected industry. From 2004 to 2009, as Director, Media and Communications for the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), Heather successfully reinvented the CIM communications and editorial department as the relevant source of information for the industry.

Heather served as Vice-Chair of Women in Mining Canada and is a founding member of the Women in Mining Montreal Branch organizing committee. Heather has received the CIM Distinguished Lecturer Award and was recognized in WIM UK’s 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining.

Andrew Scott, Principal Innovator, Symbiotic Innovations


Andrew Scott has been involved in the mining innovation arena since the very beginning of his career over 30 years’ ago. Having studied biotechnology and computer science at the University of Queensland, he was drawn to the mining industry as a means of funding his ongoing study.

As a young field assistant, he quickly found himself fulfilling the role of “go-to” person for any new technology that needed to be investigated or implemented. If ever he felt that a position within a company wasn’t giving him technology exposure, Andrew discovered that he would engineer himself into those roles. The latest example is when Michelle Ash became Chief Innovation Officer at Barrick, he made sure that he was on her team delivering on their digital strategy as Senior Director Innovation.

Since 2012, Andrew has been Incoming Chairman, Chairman, Outgoing Chairman and Working Groups Chair of Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) and thoroughly enjoys working with motivated and passionate people to improve the industry through collaboration, guidelines, and innovation.

As Senior Director, Innovation/Digital Mining at Barrick, Andrew had the scope of providing technology support for the entire mining process, which includes everything from exploration, feasibility, construction, production, reconciliation, through mine closure. In addition, Andrew represented Barrick on the OSI Soft Client Advisory Board, collaborating with representatives from other OSI Soft customers from other industries, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Andrew has recently taken up the position of Principal Innovator at Symbiotic Innovations and coupled with his concurrent role as CORE Skills Facilitator, he is enthusiastic about further supporting the resource sector’s successful digital transformation.


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