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Christofer Catania | CEO | MEC Mining

MEC Mining – Delivering Sustainable & Advanced Mining Solutions

The world has evolved a lot since the Industrial revolution in terms of coal mining, considering it to be the primary energy source for industrial areas and transportation. But in the entire revolution till date, the primary source of energy remains constant, which is Coal.

With the invention of new technologies, the coal mining industry has grown in capabilities covering all the aspects of exploration and mining activities.

In the 17th century, the first coal mining experiments were carried out, and since then, there have been rapid changes in the mining process. Automated tools with emerging technologies are being integrated in the present time to transform the future of the mining industry.

An Australian-based Global Consulting Firm, MEC Mining, started using automated tools and new technologies by implying AI in the mining industry to provide well-placed support to their clients by transforming their operations.

Concerning Advancing Sustainable Mining, MEC Mining is providing new, cleaner, and more efficient methods of operations, as this is the future of mining to minimize the environmental effects.

With the leadership of Christofer Catania, CEO, he states about the founders Daniel Chippendale, Simon Cohn, and Ted Boulton implying first-hand knowledge of the mining industry and the challenges owners encounter while implementing a project because they were mining engineers with practical experience.

When they founded MEC Mining, they created a team that was focused on speaking with and working together with clients to give the most individualized solutions to each challenge.

So let’s unfold the journey of the founders in MEC Mining and learn more about their experience through the interview highlights below:

Please describe your firm in detail.

MEC Mining is an Australian-based, global consulting firm that specializes in mine technical services capabilities across the project life cycle, from exploration and early-stage development to mine closure and rehabilitation. Our Geotechnical Engineers, Mining Engineers, and Geologists support clients from both open-cut and underground mining across a broad range of commodities.

What was your inspiration behind venturing into the mining industry?

As mining engineers with real-world experience, our founders Daniel Chippendale, Simon Cohn, and Ted Boulton, had a first-hand understanding of the mining landscape and the pitfalls that owners face in executing a project. When establishing MEC Mining, they built a team focusing on communicating and collaborating with clients to deliver the best-tailored resolutions to each problem. This has remained the company’s vision and mission.

Tell us about your company’s journey in the mining sector.

Established in 2005 in Brisbane, the company, which initially offered technical support to Australian mining companies within coal, has since grown in response to demand from clients locally and internationally and now services both metalliferous and coal mining organizations. In 2021, Chris Catania was appointed Chief Executive Officer as part of the company’s organizational re-structure to facilitate MEC’s accelerated growth trajectory. That growth included the creation of advisory and geotechnical business units and the establishment of offices in Perth to better serve our Western Australian clientele.

Earlier this year, MEC Mining also acquired Integrated Geological Mining Services (IGMS). The established firm, based in Fremantle, Western Australia, further bolstered our growing capabilities to cover all aspects of exploration and mining activities.

Another initiative of which we are immensely proud saw the creation of MEC’s Mining Graduate Program, which fosters and supports new graduates in their careers with us. We also recently welcomed our industry partnership with AusIMM, which will further advocate for best practices and technical excellence in the sector. A real commitment to ongoing learning sees us hosting regular technical talks to support and promote best practices and technical capabilities across our team. This not only enhances our team’s personal growth and knowledge but value-adds to the industry when our consultants share this knowledge with clients.

What were the initial challenges you faced while venturing into the mining industry?

As a core team with excellent industry connections, we quickly established reputations as knowledgeable and reliable consultants among our clients and, importantly, excellent communicators who were willing to ‘get their hands dirty to solve clients’ problems. But, like many others, the company faced the volatility of the industry and had to become adept at being flexible to support the varying demands of clients. It was our success in this area that encouraged and enabled company growth.

What are the USPs that highlight your brand/company’s uniqueness as a leading name in the mining niche?

Our value proposition extends from our core values of quality, impact, and relationships. At MEC, we have a team of innovative, creative thinkers whose broad spectrum of skills and experiences complement and support each other and deliver maximum benefit for our clients. Our team members have been selected and developed as experts in their field and are considered amongst the best in the industry. They come from diverse backgrounds and bring a passion for continuous learning, both from each other and from the projects in which they are involved. Their commitment to delivering value beyond client expectations is a unique quality and is at the core of our team.

Regardless of position, manager, or CEO, all input is not only valued but invited because communication lies at the heart of what we do. Hearing our clients, listening to clients, and responding rather than reacting to their problems or imposing solutions, means we deliver and develop enduring relationships.

As an experienced professional, what would you like to advise the budding aspirants willing to enter the mining sector?

Aspirants are entering an exciting and crucial industry. In our Graduate Development Program, we advocate a holistic approach with a 70:20:10 formula: 

  • 70% of learning happens on the job, e.g., project work, daily tasks, job shadowing   
  • 20% of learning happens through others, e.g., manager/mentor support   
  • 10% of learning happens through formal learning, e.g., workshops, courses (formal and online) 

How do you envision your company’s operations with the emerging technologies and automated tools that are revolutionizing the mining industry?

Our team is excited by the burgeoning new technologies and the implications of AI for the future of mining and is hungry to explore ways it can impact the future of mining. This means that we are well-placed to support our clients as they consider if, when, and how they will embrace the new technologies to transform their operations. Indeed, our consultants are not only already engaged in these discussions but are delivering online sessions to disseminate information about how to integrate emerging innovations into mining technical service practices today. 

To be Designed Separately

Advancing Sustainable Mining

There is a consensus that Climate Change is the number 1 strategic threat to our mining industry. It is critical for players to understand the changing paradigms around this issue to ensure that they not only have continuity of operations through volatile climates but also have a strong understanding of how the stakeholder expectations are changing and how they must respond.   

Sustainable mining in the future will require players to minimize their environmental and ethical footprint through decarbonization, water and waste management, and forging strong relationships with open and transparent communication channels across indigenous communities, government, investors, as well as communities in the general public.   

But, as with any significant change, shifting behaviors to achieve environmental and social governance will require supportive mechanisms to enable the transition and a good degree of resilience. The journey to achieve ESG guidelines also needs to be defined as part of a company’s long-term purpose and its economic case. It’s important to integrate sustainability into every employee’s job, including the company board. The financial benefits of conservation need to be well communicated so that each individual sees environmental sustainability as not only a business requirement but as a personal responsibility. The moves will encourage greater transparency and accountability from the industry and a more developed and open engagement with the public.  

Already there are numerous official and industry resources being made available to move to sustainable mining practices, and it is clear that, when implemented, the benefits to employees, communities and the planet will be there and not necessarily at the expense of productivity or profitability.   

MEC Mining is already providing support to clients who are proactively planning, and the overwhelming sentiment is one of positivity in embracing change. The happy collision of this move with the growth of new technologies means that AI, EBV, and hydrogen vehicles, for example, will provide new, cleaner, and more efficient methods of operation for the sector. And, while cost is an inevitable and important consideration, small incremental changes will deliver results in the first instance.