GMG Sudbury Forum

Meet the Speakers

Alexander Lenz, Product Manager – Electrification | MacLean Engineering

Alexander joined the MacLean team 7 years ago as a Red Seal Electrician. He started working as an Electrician in MacLean’s Electrical Component Shop and have since held various roles in Electrical, Equipment Rebuilds, BEV Support Technician, and now as one of the Product Manager – Electrification. Alexander feels fortunate to be a part of MacLean’s fleet electrification program that the company began in 2016. 

Andy Charsley, Principal Mining Engineer | Vale

Andy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Toronto and a Master’s Degree in Mineral Resources Engineering from Laurentian UniversityHe is a Registered Professional Engineer and is certified as a Project Management Professional with over 30 years of progressive experience in the Mining and Construction Industries.

Andy joined Vale in 2000 in Sudbury Ontario and has held roles of increasing responsibly including Research Engineer, Senior Project Engineer, Project Group Leader and Senior Project Manager, Business Systems and Engineering Manager. He is now working as a Principal Mining Engineer in Vale’s Technology and Innovation Group leading Vale’s Initiative in Mechanical Rock Excavation. 

Brian Huff, Vice President of Technology, Battery and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Business Unit | Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions  

Brian is the Vice President of New Technology and Innovation for the Load and Haul Division of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions. Brian has more than 28 years of experience working with battery electric vehicles. He holds a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Davis and worked as a researcher there for 9 years prior to co-founding Artisan Vehicles. 

Artisan was a pioneer in the battery electric mining equipment industry and has had battery equipment with their technology operating in underground hard rock mines for over 10 years. Artisan was acquired by Sandvik in February of 2018. Sandvik currently produces a pair of battery-powered mining machines, the LH518iB, an 18-tonne LHD and the TH550B, a 50-tonne haul truck. Both larger and smaller machines are forthcoming. 

Chamirai Charles Nyabeze, VP of Business Development | Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) and Network Director | MICA 

Chamirai Charles Nyabeze is a holder of a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering and an MBA. In his role as the VP of Business Development at the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) and as the Network Director for the Mining Innovation Commercialization Accelerator (MICA) Network, he has built a solid reputation for crafting enduring value for both organizations and clients. With his expertise, Chamirai is a master at spotting business development opportunities across both public and private sectors, with a focus on revenue generation, fund leveraging, collaborative cultivation, and network expansion. 

Leading the way for CEMI’s Commercialization Support Services division, Chamirai adeptly guides clients in bridging the crucial gap between pioneering mining technologies and their successful commercialization. Beyond this, as the MICA Network Director, Chamirai is a driving force behind the national collaborative platform dedicated to ushering innovation into the mining industry. His responsibilities encompass ecosystem engagement, project facilitation, operational excellence, government interactions, and revenue enhancement for the network. 

Cherie Burgett, Director of Cyber Intelligence Operations | MM-ISAC

Public Speaker, Theologian, and ISAC Operations, Director. As the Director of Cyber Intelligence Operations for the Mining and Metals Information Sharing Analysis Center (MM-ISAC), Cherie Burgett leads the ISAC’s cyber intelligence program, enables sharing and coordinates responses to active threats. She provides the link between the public and private sector, and supports companies to develop strategies as they undergo digital transformation. 

Christian Quirion, Senior Advisor Innovation | Agnico Eagle Mines Limited

With over two decades of experience, Christian has been an invaluable asset to the mining community since 1997 after graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. 

Christian’s journey in mining began with notable achievements as a Designer and Project Engineer during the construction of the Laronde Penna shaft and underground mine infrastructure. Throughout his career, he has showcased exceptional dedication and proficiency, holding various maintenance roles and eventually attaining the position of Superintendent in 2010. His expertise extends across a diverse range of equipment and systems, including mobile equipment, fixed plant, electrical systems, hoisting, mine cooling, and fleet automation. Through his efforts, he has effectively maintained and optimized operations in multiple areas, contributing significantly to the success of mining ventures. 

In recent years, Christian has taken on remarkable challenges as Superintendent in Nunavut, spearheading the inception of new mines. He played a pivotal role in the Meliadine startup in 2017 and the Amaruq project in 2020, leaving a mark on the mining landscape in these regions. 

Currently, Christian serves as the Senior Advisor of Innovation for Agnico Eagle’s Corporate Technical Services, where his strategic counsel and leadership shine in specific areas such as mine automation, electrification, and business improvement. His dedication to advancing the mining industry through innovation and cutting-edge technologies has earned him recognition as a visionary leader in his field. 

Photo to come

Dave Schmidt, Engineering Manager | Kovatera 

Dave has 11 years of service with Kovatera, serving 9 years as the Engineering Manager. Dave holds an Engineering Degree from the University of Waterloo and has a passion for product innovation and lean manufacturing. Dave has pioneered and lead our battery electric technology program and enjoys engaging the entire management team in process improvements that help our customers. 

Gertjan Bekkers, Vice President, Mines Technical Services | Torex Gold Resources

Gertjan Bekkers is VP, Mines Technical Services with Torex Gold Resources. He is a seasoned mining executive with extensive experience in senior technical and operational leadership roles at a wide range of open pit and underground mine sites, across a variety of precious and base metals. 

His previous involvement with Newmont’s Borden mine near Timmins (Ontario) provided the opportunity for early exposure to the benefits and challenges associated with the start-up and ramp-up of a mining operation designed for electric mining equipment. 

Prior to joining Torex in 2021, Gertjan held roles with Newmont (previously Goldcorp) and Glencore (previously Xstrata and Falconbridge). 

He holds a Master’s degree in Mining and Petroleum Engineering from the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. 

Jim Keravala, CEO | OffWorld

Jim Keravala is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of OffWorld, Inc. He has held leadership roles in various innovative fields, including aerospace engineering, space systems, robotics, and machine intelligence. OffWorld represents the culmination of over a decade’s worth of architectural planning and development of autonomous robotic systems designed for mining and construction in extreme environments, both on Earth and the Moon. Currently, their autonomous mining robots and directed energy preconditioning robots are deployed in pilot programs within live underground mines, and they are actively expanding our range of mining robots.

For a period of seven years, Jim oversaw launch programs and space access using Russian and Ukrainian launch vehicles. Subsequently, he joined Surrey Satellite Technology as Launch Manager for six years, successfully overseeing over a dozen orbital launches on Russian, European, and US launch vehicles. During this time, Jim actively participated in satellite design, integration engineering, and program management.

Jim co-founded Shackleton Energy, focusing on developing architectures for space mining using propellant depots and reusable transport systems that utilize lunar polar water to ensure a continuous supply of fuel in space. He also co-founded the OffWorld Consortium, which aims to build a fleet of space-based solar power stations, funded by Middle-East sovereigns.

In collaboration with NASA Ames, Mr. Keravala co-founded a synthetic biology program aimed at enabling the over-expression of enzymes in bioleaching scenarios for terrestrial and space mining.

Jim pursued his studies in aerospace engineering, spacecraft engineering, and physics at the University of London, Surrey University, Aachen Technical University, and the International Space University. He previously served as faculty at Singularity University and holds advisory roles and Board of Directors positions in several space institutes, including the National Space Society, The International Moonbase Alliance, and the Moon Village Association.

Jim is an Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics, a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, and a Member of the International Institute of Space Law. Additionally, he is a member of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, as well as serving on the Board of the Global Mining Standards Group Governance Committee.

JP Desmarais, Business Line Manager for Automation | Sandvik 

JP Desmarais Graduated from “École de Technologie Supérieure” in Mechanical Engineering; he’s always worked in high technology: prototype helicopter engine testing, Oil & Gas simulation, FEA software, and now in mining technology. 

He joined Sandvik in January 2021 as Sales Manager Automation Canada after 3 years at Newtrax, a Sandvik Company. Appointed as a Business Line Manager in 2022, he’s now responsible for the profitability, growth, and sustainability of the division. 

Keith Bowness, Innovation Manager | Glencore

Keith Bowness is a Professional Engineer with certifications in maintenance and project management. Expertise in machine and systems design applied in the manufacturing, plastics, semi-conductor, railway and mining industries.

Keith joined Glencore in 2005 in Sudbury, Ontario and has held roles of increasing responsibility, including Engineering Lead, Maintenance General Foreman, Mine Superintendent, and Mine Infrastructure Manager. He is now an Innovation Manager in Sudbury INO’s Innovation Group.

Martin Champagne, Business Line Manager – Digital Solutions Division | Epiroc

In 2003, Martin, a graduate from College Boreal in Sudbury, joined Epiroc (previously Atlas Copco) as an Automation and Electrical Service Specialist. Since then, Martin has held several roles relating to automation and digitalization.

Currently, as Business Line Manager, Martin leads a dynamic team of professionals and has overseen the successful implementation of several innovative automation and digitalization projects in Canada.

Throughout his career, Martin has embraced Epiroc’s core values for innovation, commitment and collaboration as the organization strives to accelerate the transformation within the mining industry.

As the demand for automation-related technology continues to rise, both domestically and globally, Martin’s expertise has become a valuable asset to Epiroc’s performance in this growing sector.

Michael David MacFarlane, Director | MDM Mining Consulting

An accomplished senior mining executive and industry thought leader, Michael MacFarlane’s successful career of delivering sustained business improvements, building high performance teams and leading change in organisations spans more than three decades. Currently the Director for MDM Mining Consulting, Mr. MacFarlane’s extensive knowledge and understanding of the global mining industry supports a range of international mining clients to address the current mining environment and to help them improve productivity and transform their mining operations.  

As the former Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Innovation for AngloGold Ashanti, Mr. MacFarlane led strategy and planning for the company. His understanding of the rapidly changing competitive landscape in the mining industry enabled him to recommend long-term transformational change and identify key business opportunities. As Senior Vice President Technical in AngloGold Ashanti’s South African Region, Mr. MacFarlane led a team to drive transformational change within their ultra deep mining operation with a specific focus on new mining technology. 

As a First Class Mine Manager, with a Professional Engineer designation, Mr. MacFarlane holds a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering from Dalhousie University. 

Natalie Hawkins, Principal Engineer Technology & Innovation – North Atlantic Autonomous Program Lead | Vale 

Natalie Hawkins is a Professional Engineer with over 14 years of experience in the mining industry graduating from Laurentian University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Mining Engineering.  Natalie has held various roles at multiple operating sites in ground control, ventilation, production planning, business planning, mine design, and operational excellence. 

In 2018, Natalie was appointed as Vale Canada Limited’s first Integrated Operations Superintendent prior to joining Vale’s Technology & Innovation team in 2020 as Principal Engineer -Technology & Innovation. In this role, she created and launched Vale’s North Atlantic Green Energy Vehicle Program, championed Vale’s OEM Technology Partnerships, and supported the underground Mobile Proximity Detection implementations & Collision Avoidance System testing. In her current role, Natalie is leading Vale’s North Atlantic Operations Underground Autonomous Program. 

Raphael Godard, Principal Engineer, Base Metals T&I | Vale

Raphael Godard is an Underground Principal Mine Engineer at Vale since 2019 with experience in studies, project management and operation. Since joining Vale, his main focuses have been on Technology & Innovation initiatives, Value Optimization Projects and Technical Assurance Reviews. Prior to join Vale, Raphael worked at Barrick Gold in strategic & Life of Mine planning at corporate and site levels. Previously, he spent over a decade at Rio Tinto where he held variety of roles with projects, corporate and sites (Resolution Copper, Rio Tinto Aluminium and Diavik Diamond Mines). He graduated from McGill University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Engineering – Mining. 

Rob Labbé, CEO and CISO in Residence | MM-ISAC 

Rob Labbé is an accomplished senior executive with more than 20 years of success across the IT security industry, within mining, software development, telecommunications, retail, oil & gas, manufacturing and healthcare. Leveraging extensive experience in cyber security risk management and critical infrastructure, he is a valuable advisor for an organization that is concerned around the security of their manufacturing or industrial networks, needing to enable a digital transformation. 

Rob’s broad areas of expertise include risk management, building diverse cyber security teams, vendor management, training, and professional development. Throughout his executive career, Rob has held leadership positions with Microsoft, Fidelis IT inc. and Teck Resources Limited, and is currently CEO and CISO in Residence of the Mining and Metals Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MM-ISAC). 

Ron Bose, Professional Engineer and CEM | Glencore 

Ron is a Professional Engineer and a Certified Energy Manager.  As a member of the Innovation and Technology team at Glencore’s Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, his day to day is to implement initiatives to improve productivity by better resource management and nurturing the creation of information from data.  His mantra is People ← Process ← Technology.

Ryan Jakov, Mine Engineering Solutions Specialist | Worley 

Ryan is a mine engineering professional with over 13 years of experience in hard rock, soft rock, and sales and service of mining related equipment across Canada.  Before joining Worley, Ryan was a part of Vale at the Copper Cliff Phase 1 Project as the Mine Planning Engineer for the project.  He exhibits a wealth of experience in bringing short-range designs to as-builts while incorporating new infrastructure and technologies.  In addition to project execution expertise, he has experience with mine operations, long-range and study planning. 

Most recently, Ryan has worked in-depth with BEV technologies in underground mining applications, from rethinking ways to perform mine design work to incorporate BEVs, to being actively involved in pushing forward the technological revolution that BEVs are bringing to the mining industry. 

Sanket Patel, Program Manager, Mining Technology and Innovation, Vale

Sanket Patel was appointed as Program Manager of Green Energy Vehicle Program at Vale Base Metals since 2022.  Prior to this role, Sanket had various leadership roles which included managing Capital and Shutdown projects within Vale for 4 years.

Sanket brings a multidisciplinary background and exposure as he worked in oil pipelines, construction projects–industrial, underground and also has operating experience at an Open pit limestone mine. He holds an academic record in Engineering with Masters, Bachelors and Technician degrees in Mining engineering. 

Shawn Samuels, Business Line Manager Rocvolt Canada, Acting Global Business Manager Rocvolt | Epiroc

Shawn Samuels has been a valued member of Epiroc Canada’s for over 16 years. Starting his career as a Service Shop Manager, Shawn eventually moved into a Product Sales Manager Contracts role and then transitioned to Service Operations Manager Canada. 

Currently, as electrification and battery technology continues to advance, Shawn utilizes his knowledge and experience to support customers as they transform their operations to zero emissions. In his previous position as Product Manager Rocvolt Canada, Shawn has played an important role in developing Epiroc’s BEV portfolio and supporting battery electric implementation. Recently , Shawn was selected to become Business Line Manager, Rocvolt Canada – a position he currently holds. 

With Shawn in this management role, Epiroc’s Canadian operations have celebrated numerous milestones in battery technology and service deals that ultimately benefit productivity for customers (i.e. Batteries as a Service).