Malcolm Scoble


Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
From social risk to shared purpose: reframing minings approach to corporate social responsibility (2017)

From transportation to infrastructure, from energy to information technology, mining makes a significant contribution to society. It also impacts the lives of millions of people living in regions where mining occurs. Today, an increasing number of individuals and groups have earned a legitimate right to be considered as stakeholders in projects affecting their communities. This has given rise to mining-community conflict and is forcing companies to reconsider the approach to earning and retaining social approval. Global mining leaders have been working to implement policies and practices aligned with corporate social responsibility (CSR) tenets yet conflict between mining companies and the communities that host extractive operations appears to be growing.This research seeks to quantify incidents of mining-community conflict and test a theory that reframing CSR to create shared value could deliver financial returns to mining operations while advancing economic and social conditions in associated communities. It is suggested that the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a context for reframing CSR as a strategic business imperative. A new model of engagement is proposed that places the SDGs at the centre of mining-community engagement to align mining with the values of society and rebuild the sector’s current trust deficit.A multi-method research approach is used. The quantitative portion analyzes mining community conflicts from 2012 – 2015 as reported in the international media. Media coverage was hand-coded using a system adapted from conflict literature, and a document analysis of a sub-set of the conflict situations was employed to explore the results. A qualitative, theory-building case study investigates collaboration between personnel at the Cerro Verde Mine and regional stakeholders to address regional water supply issues and develop a strategy with parallel goals: improving operational performance while delivering tangible social benefits. The research seeks to contributes to CSR as a management strategy. The findings confirm there is both monetary and reputational value to investing in core social needs that intersect with business interests. A new model to build trust in mining and advance progress on the SDGs is proposed, and a concept presented that places CSR approaches within life-of-mine stages.

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British Columbia Copper Mining Development: A Sixty-Year Economic and Political Retrospective (2015)

Mining is a significant economic driver in British Columbia (BC). There has been a long history of copper mining in BC and with a strong forecasted global demand for copper it remains an important socio-economic opportunity. In the last 15 years, only one copper project has progressed beyond the federal-provincial review system to proceed into production. Why has it been so difficult for such new mines to be built in BC? A conceptual framework of political ecology is used to determine the relationship between factors, actors and sectors in order to characterize their influence on mine development in BC between 1952 and 2014. The dissertation is organized in two parts: first, an analysis of economic, social and technological; and, (Part 2) political analysis. Part 2 analyzes seven current copper projects to determine their quality and economic viability. It analyzes the political factors, actors and sectors that are shown to have significantly influenced the development of mineral policy and regulatory frameworks in BC. This analysis showed that political, economic, social and technological forces (political parties, commodity prices, operating and capital cost inflation, environmental regulations, land access issues, environmental and social movements, and a change in voter values) have driven miners to restart or expand old mines rather than build new ones. It considers the potential consequences of what ultimately could result in a punitive cycle of discovery drought. In addition, factors, and actors need to come together in order for such large, low-grade deposits to be built in BC. Building a mine in the current climate is shown to be far more complex and regulated than at the height of BC mining development when Premier W.A.C. Bennett (1952-1972) was in power. The research demonstrates that significant development issues relate in particular to: First Nation land claims; the environmental movement and protected areas; regulatory duplication and inconsistencies; and provincial, federal and international relations that hinder mine development in BC. Overall, highlighting the decline in BC’s copper industry as being a political-economic issue opens up discussion and debate on how to resurrect the industry and how to make it sustainable for future generations.

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The Aetiology of Error: Cognitive Profiling Events within the Mining Industry (2010)

Investigation of accidents, incidents and other unintended events in the workplace continues to evolve in the mining industry, as it has for other heavy industries. Traditional investigation approaches are grounded in causation – the determination of cause and effect relationships manifested by the evidentiary record. This approach, while intuitive and widely accepted, is not inclusive of the more distal elements of causality such as the influence of cognitive error and the perception of risk. This research examines the role of cognitive error in decisions that contribute to events; the nature of these errors and how they are indicative of organizational culture.The main objective of this research is to develop and evaluate a cognitive error tool that can be used in the analysis of events within the mining industry. The current taxonomies are few, and are not available in a robust and structured model easily applied by accident investigators. This research seeks to address this by offering a theory of event causality based upon decision errors (Decision Error); taxonomy of decision errors (Lost Error); and, a model for profiling cognitive error (Cognitive Profiling). Further, through cognitive profiling, it will be shown that there is a collective, or distributed, cognition that exists precursory to an event that heretofore has not been addressed by conventional causation modelling of events in the mine workplace.This research contributes to the field of human error analysis by proposing taxonomy based upon decision errors; and to the field of cognitive science by examining the role that risk perception has in cognition within the workplace. It provides a lexicon and a methodology that is exploratory in determining those events in the mine enterprise that are prone to escalation toward disaster; and by what errors in management such outcomes can be triggered. This research contributes to the field of accident theory and investigation by expanding on the notion of causation to include causality. It is shown that when events and their investigation are considered as systems with inputs, outputs, and processes; then there is another system at play – the human error system that is antecedent to events.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
A Review and Analysis of Canadian Indigenous Mining Policy (2016)

In recent years, certain Indigenous governments and organizations have established their own mining codes and policies to address mineral development on their territory. Aside from the policies themselves, there is a lack of research exploring the emergence of these policies, the contents and implications of mineral resource development in Canada. The researcher was engaged by the Tłı̨chǫ Government to bridge this knowledge gap in support of the development of the Tłı̨chǫ Mineral Strategy. Through this process the Tłı̨chǫ First Nation became the case study for this research. In addition to the Tłı̨chǫ First Nation case study, the research reviewed twelve additional Indigenous mining policies. The goal of this evaluation was to: explore the differences between adopted policy approaches and goals; understand how the policy approach taken relates to the nature of the legislation to which it connects; and determine whether there are enabling frameworks that drive or launch the creation of an Indigenous mining policy. The research revealed that there is there is no clear standard of practice established for the creation of an Indigenous mining policy; however, there are three primary drivers for policy creation: specific mining events, assertion of rights and land claims agreements. These drivers, along with the relationship established between the Indigenous government or organization and the Crown, influence the structure and contents of the policy. The outcomes of this research have contributed to the development of the Tłı̨chǫ Mineral Strategy and can be used to inform other Indigenous governments and organizations looking to develop their own mining policy. Recommendations for future work include understanding the response of industry to these policies and how Indigenous mining policies integrate with provincial, territorial or federal mining policy.

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Capturing Vulnerability: towards a method for assessing, mitigating, and monitoring gendered violence in mining communities in British Columbia (2016)

The impacts of the extractive industry (mining, oil and gas) on the health and safety of rural and Aboriginal women are largely unidentified and unmitigated in British Columbia (BC) environmental assessments. In relation to extractive industries, women experience direct and indirect impacts in unique ways. Globally, evidence suggests that extractive industries are associated with increased incidence of substance abuse, prostitution, and violence against women. Rural and Aboriginal women are among the most vulnerable people in Canada. They experience high levels of domestic and non-domestic violence and have limited access to health services. While BC’s environmental assessments are increasingly rigorous, health impacts beyond environmental exposures, such as those related to violence in communities, are considered out of scope and the indicators used to assess, mitigate, and monitor them remain undeveloped. This research, part of a collaborative five-year project on extractive industries and community health in BC, sought to: (1) synthesize findings from the literature on women’s health and safety in relation to extractive industry development; (2) identify indicators of vulnerability of rural and Aboriginal women to violent victimization in BC; and (3) develop a mapped composite indicator to identify regions of BC where poor health, substance abuse, and violence are endemic, and where women are at risk of violent victimization. The resulting indicator provides a proposed model for assessing and monitoring population vulnerability in relation to major projects and enhancing the current environmental assessment process. Results indicate that BC’s northernmost regions are highly vulnerable, characterized by low health status and access to services, high levels of substance abuse and violent crime, and a high proportion of women at risk of violent victimization. Recommendations are made for extractive industry proponents, regulators and impact assessors, and affected communities to make use of quantitative tools to better capture vulnerability in relation to extractive projects. Subsequently, targeted mitigation measures that address violence and consider the needs of vulnerable populations can be prescribed in regions where extractive industry projects operate. This work was completed as part of the University of British Columbia Bridge Program with funding from Vancouver Foundation and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

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University and Industry Collaboration in Canadian Mining Education (2015)

For many years Canada has been at the forefront of mining engineering education, research, and technology development. Canadian universities have been the foundation for developing the individuals and companies that have maintained a global reputation for quality and responsibility. However, various stresses on the Canadian mining education system currently appear to place at risk the quality of the educational experience, limit the ability of mining departments to adapt to industry, while overall jeopardizing the sustainability of mining education.This study identifies the absence of an industry strategy to nurture the sustainability of Canada’s mining educational excellence. The thesis is based on a qualitative research program that examined the perspectives of a range of industry and academic experts. It attempts to contribute to invigorated collaboration between industry and universities to better address the future human resources challenges and ensure the sustainability of Canadian mining leadership.Data collected through a series of structured interviews was organized into six themes leading to the conclusion that the challenges threatening the university contribution to mining engineering leadership in Canada can be mitigated through strategic university and industry collaboration.It concludes that industry leadership needs to become proactively involved in collaboration with schools to sustain Canada’s mining education health and quality. Its leadership needs to be more aware of the critical state of Canadian mining engineering education system. Industry needs to influence mining schools to pool resources and expertise and to work collaboratively together rather than in isolation. Companies need to accelerate the development of future leaders through offering consistent summer student and co-op hiring. Lastly, it is recommended that industry needs to prioritize mentorship and facilitate the timely transfer of knowledge from senior engineers to junior engineers.This thesis contends that Canadian mining engineering education is at a critical juncture. The mining industry is experiencing a new era of globalization and expectations of sustainable development. Continuing to simply stay the course places Canada’s competitiveness as a leader in mining at risk. The research concludes by observing that a new vision and strategy for industry-university collaboration, energised by government, should be a priority short term goal.

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Towards Sustainable Rare Earth Mining: A Study of Occupational & Community Health Issues (2014)

Rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of actinide minerals that have been widely used in many areas of industry, such as: electronics, petro-chemistry, metallurgy, and defense. They will continue to become a dominant contributor to global economic development. In the wake of REE exploration, mining and processing, concern has grown over potential associated occupational and community health issues and risks. There has traditionally been little specific health and safety guidance associated with REE mining to date.The motivation of this research is to raise an awareness of known REE mining occupational and community health risks. This aims to contribute to a sound foundation for the development of effective occupational and community health and safety management as part of sustainable REE mining. The thesis addresses four objectives: 1) to characterize the geological characteristics, current global production, uses and recycling of REEs, especially for the dominant producer: China; 2) to review the REE life cycle and identify key activities, contaminants, tailings, water management and closure processes that present potential occupational and community health and safety risks; 3) to present the results of a literature review, particularly focused on REE mining and occupational and community health in China that identifies issues and risks; and 4) to review policy and governance strategies adopted by key producing countries, particularly the USA, Canada and China. This work has sought to assemble and analyze prior Chinese REE research and governance literature reviews and translation. The findings relate to REE’s characteristics, toxicity, the routes and mechanism of inducing contaminates into the environment. Major known occupational health issues relate to lung/ liver/ bone/ brain/ blood diseases, skin disorders, and reproductive health issues. Major community health issues relate to indigestion, diarrhea, abdominal distension, anorexia, and low IQ in children. This thesis makes an original contribution in presenting what are considered to be a clearly justified and comprehensive set of occupational and community health indicators. The priority and considerations for future research on occupational and community health and safety management associated with REE mining have also been recommended, particularly for control measures and health impacts assessment.

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A study on the career advancement and retention of highly qualified women in the Canadian mining industry (2013)

The gender imbalance in the Canadian mining industry is considerable and persistent. Despite a substantial forecasted labour shortage, women represent only 14% of the national mining workforce. This research investigates the underutilization and under-representation of a specific labour subset, namely Highly Qualified Women. Highly Qualified Women (HQW) are women who have obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher. HQW represent a substantial source of technical and leadership capacity for the mining industry. This research study used an online survey as the primary methodology for data collection, and the survey resulted in a sample of 163 HQW respondents. From the responses, HQW career paths were mapped and their perceptions on mining workplace culture and career barriers were analyzed. Results indicated two distinct career pathway trends for HQW in the mining industry. ‘The Specialist,’ a career characterized by multiple professional scientific and technical positions, and ‘The Corporate,’ a career characterized by professional administrative roles and roles in mid-level management. It was found that neither ‘Corporates’ nor ‘Specialists’ systematically progressed into senior management and executive roles. These findings suggest that HQWs careers in mining are stalled, despite a strong indication by respondents of interest in their professional career advancement. With regards to workplace culture, respondents indicated that blatant forms of gender discrimination have been reduced in mining workplaces; however, exclusion from informal networks, implicit bias and subtler forms of workplace discrimination persist. Consistent with previous mining sector research, improving work-life balance, work flexibility and mentorship were found as key drivers for HQW to advance and remain in the industry. From the significant insight of the respondents, strategic recommendations for organizations to improve the advancement and retention of HQW in mining were developed. 

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Application of Simulation Techniques in Development Planning for Caving Methods (2012)

The mining industry globally is moving towards exploiting more mineral deposits by underground methods for several reasons. Large scale underground block/panel caving mining methods are becoming more popular due to the low operating costs associated with economies of scale. However, the planning for a caving mine is very challenging.Simulation techniques have been used successfully by many industries for a long time. They have proven to be valuable in assisting the mine planning process, forecasting the performance of modeled systems, and testing alternatives at very low cost. In this research, simulation techniques were applied in the planning phase of a panel caving mine. These techniques were based on the existing experience as well as new software technology development. A state-of-art mine development simulation software package, SimMine®, was used as a tool for this study.Oyu Tolgoi is a large copper-gold complex located in southern Mongolia. It contains the Hugo North deposit which will be extracted using the panel caving method. Pre-production development (PPD) will involve over 40 km of lateral development and 70,000 m³ of massive excavations. So the PPD time and cost will be significant. The global mining industry has only limited experience to ensure effectively the design and planning for such complex, large scale projects. A case study of the Hugo North Lift 1 PPD is the focus for the simulation outlined in this research thesis.A simulation model was developed for the PPD planning. This was found to more accurately predict long term lateral development and mass excavation rates and scheduled ventilation requirements. The process of simulation was significant in enabling the optimization of development planning and equipment selection. There appear to be considerable opportunities for simulation of such planning aspects in mining. This research aims to contribute to future software development that delivers more reliable and functional simulation tools for mining engineers. These should realize significant safety, financial and environmental advances through improved scheduling for PPD in the next generation of large, complex underground mines.

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