Northern Heart + Home was designed to celebrate the people, places and positives that set the North apart. The Northern Hustle spotlight series focuses on inspiring stories of determination and dedication in our northern communities. Each profile highlights citizens whose hustle and heart have helped them overcome obstacles to ultimately thrive in the North. This profile features President/CEO of LAURION Mineral Exploration Inc. Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin and the team of inspiring women she leads.
Diversity and inclusion are becoming key aspects of focus for many mining companies with good reason. Female directors of mining companies are rare, representing only 19% of the market in 2021. Women working in the mining industry are even rarer, making up an estimated 8-17% of the global workforce. Aboriginal employees comprise just 7% of Canada’s mining workforce and of that less than 1% are women.
Northern Ontario based LAURION Mineral Exploration Inc is the exception to these statistics. Under the leadership of President/CEO Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin since 2003, Laurion Mineral Exploration Inc. has morphed from Explorer to Discoverer while reaching new share price heights. Cynthia credits several women for helping achieve these incredible outcomes:
“Our geoscience team who is managing the project and exploration in conjunction with me, are a group of wonderful brilliant women. The group who is working with Laurion on completing the permitting for the processing of the surface stockpiles is also a group of strong, wonderful, smart women…we also have a young First Nations geotechnician, who started with us this year – she is awesome. I did not strategically plan this outcome, but as you know excellence always finds its way to the top of the pile.”
Read below to learn more about the accomolished group of women behind LME and their secrets for success in a male dominated industry!
The Northern Hustle Q+A: The Women Behind LAURION Mineral Exploration Inc.
Tell us about the exploration at Ishkoday and the connection to the aboriginal communities in the area.
Many people do not recognize the challenges and importance of being in Exploration in the Mineral Sector. The discovery of a mineral deposit can transform a piece of “moose pasture” into an economic asset, and it may enable millions/billions of dollars’ worth of metal and minerals to meet the needs of human purposes from technology, homes buildings to green technology.
LAURION’s Ishkoday Project is a mid-stage exploration project development company focused primarily on its wholly owned 47 km² flagship, past-producing ‘brown field’ Ishkoday Gold Polymetallic Project, located 220km North-East of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
Cynthia Le Sueur–Aquin, CEO and President of LAURION Mineral Exploration Inc. states, “Our strategic objective lies within a 6 km strike by 2 km wide mineralized Target Area on our project, the Ishkoday. Ishkoday is one of the few remaining ‘low hanging fruits” with mineralization at surface, extending to depth. The Ishkoday location is further complemented by excellent roads and access to services and amenities. Once the project has been developed and becomes a mine, it will bring about much needed growth to the Greenstone Region and Aboriginal communities.”
The Ishkoday was formerly known as the Sturgeon River Project. Through a collaborative participation with LAURION’s 5 Aboriginal Groups in the area, the new project name was chosen through a draw submitted by the communities and means “Fire/Flint rock” (“Ishkoday Ahsin”) in Ojibwe (Anishinaabe), signifying the first techniques of mining in the area. The name celebrates the communities and their connection with their heritage lands. All of Ishkoday new discovery zones are given an Ojibwe name.
The three major mineralized trends occur across the Target Area and are characterized by two separate multi-episodic mineralizing events.
- Ishkoday style – stockwork-style veins that are gold-rich;
- Multiple sphalerite-rich centimeters to metre wide – gold and base metal veins
What challenges do you face?
LAURION has successfully demonstrated how the exploration process evolves through strategic stages of prospecting, sampling, stripping and channel sampling to drilling of mineralized targets towards the demonstration of the existence of an ore deposit.
Exploration is high-risk, and explorers and their teams, like LAURION work hard in challenging climates and often remote and lonely environments to execute their exploration programs, in the most expedient manner to de-risk their projects, amidst the peripheral corporate challenges of sourcing investors who recognize the potential of the corporation’s vision.
All exploration companies navigate the challenges of cyclical markets, which oscillate from ‘boom to bust’, to negotiating with Aboriginal Groups for rights to explore within their territories, to setting up of remote camps in unfriendly environments, yet we are drawn to the “discovery”. From a position of one of the fortunate companies to make a discovery, LAURION is showcasing to the Mineral and the Earth Sciences Sector, ‘textbook” mineralization and exposure in its mineralized outcrops and drilling.
There is a very large sector of the population that believe mining is unnecessary, dirty, has a large footprint and is managed by unconscionable large organizations that operate mines at the risk of destroying the health and well-being of communities.
The message of mining to LAURION’s investors is that its substantial economic contribution to the GDP of country’s economies wills the heart of the financial readers, while implemented land-use regulations and strategies will target aboriginal and proximal community audiences in terms of partnership opportunities and benefits.
The focus in many mining and exploration companies is diversity and inclusion. How does LME fulfill this aim?
LAURION’s work environment and key affiliation in the Geoscience service supply community such as Ronacher McKenzie and Blue Heron, demonstrates and offers equal opportunities for working in the mineral sector, eliminating the belief that mining is for men.
Madisyn Morrisseau shares, “In the short amount of time that I have been working at LAURION Mineral Exploration, I have learned many skills. I learnt how to cut drill core and what it takes to mentally and physically, fulfill the job responsibilities of a Geotech. Working with drill core learning about the different types rocks and lithologies, has been my most enjoyable task so far.
Since starting this job, I have become more confident in my learning abilities. I am fast, efficient, and want help my team where I can. Being a young female in a male dominated work environment can feel intimidating, but I would encourage other young females to get a job in this field. We are just as capable to do this job and it brings a sense of empowerment, determination, and pride. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and I am glad that I did.”
What does LME do to embrace and elevate ESG?
One of the most important hot topics or issues in my field, and corporate message related to the Ishkoday project, is that the social license to mine and social sustainable development in general, such as inclusive recruitment, negotiations and planning with aboriginal groups, participation in community planning and creating safe workplaces can affect a company’s social license to mine. The qualities of todays’ CEO’s are required to do so much more within the scope of the position. The biggest asset of a CEO’s responsibilities, which is most important for mining and exploration, is being the face of the corporation to ALL stakeholders – centered around the “why”, looking at understanding the big picture for our Greenstone Region and its communities, and creating the interactions that will shape and prioritize the moments of truth in the future – building resilience ahead of a crisis.
The social license and the attitudes associated with mining, is not as important during the life of an exploration project, however a CEO needs to focus on establishing the trajectory of the evolution of exploration to mining, with the understanding that facilitation of growth, job and benefits opportunities is key to the evolution in four core cornerstones of life (moral, spiritual, social and cultural) for our immediate communities with the development of the project.
Farming is to food as a basic human necessity, as mining is the foundation of the provision of the vital elements to support life and economies. Subtract mining, and essentially it will erode the four cornerstones of life. If it can’t be grown, it has to be mined.
Environmentally conscious viewers or “Greenies” will recognize the process of environmental and operational reportabilty measures, substantial financial bonds that have to be posted in order to commence regulated operations. The transitioning to that ‘greener economy’ will require more mining, not less!
For medical community of viewers, the access to hi-tech technology in the operating room has changed the lives of millions of people. Half the aged (baby boomer) population are mobile, because they have titanium hips and knees.
The balance of the population or viewers who espouse higher and better living standards through speedier cars, housing through architectural evolution will rapidly recognize that from the one piece of technology they absolutely cannot do without – the basic cell phone, is that there is ‘more metal in a pound of cell phones, than there is a pound of ore’.
The Ishkoday project and its evolution to production should resonate and educate every reader on some level!
LME has a strong female geoscience and environmental team. Who are the members of this group?
LAURION has been most successful in achieving its exploration objectives and drilling goals over the last three years, accumulating a substantial geoscience database.
Gearing up into next phase of the Ishkoday exploration evolution and increase in the 2022 drill program, LAURION’s engagement of the Ronacher McKenzie Geoscience (RMG) muscle provides to the Ishkoday Project, a consistency and accessibility to variety and depth of diverse geological expertise with innovative approaches and new techniques, to achieve the next level exploration successes and development efficient operations.
“RMG was retained by LAURION to assist the company with advancing the Ishkoday property by reviewing, integrating and interpreting LAURION’s extensive, high-quality datasets and proposing new drilling targets. RMG provides LAURION a unique combination of solutions for innovative targeting and resource development to work towards the common goal of delineating and expanding new mineralized zones on the Ishkoday,” said Cynthia Le Sueur – Aquin
Working in a male-dominated field of mining and mineral exploration is something many women in the north can relate to. It brought together two geoscientists, Elisabeth Ronacher, a geologist based in Sudbury and Jenna McKenzie, a geophysicist based in Toronto. They found that by integrating their expertise they could offer something that was missing in the mineral exploration industry.
“In the medical world, you see offices popping up that have a doctor, a chiropractor, a physiotherapist, etc. all under one roof. It makes a lot of sense when you think about your body in a holistic sense because issues can be interconnected and sometimes a group of specialists can make the best plan for your health” said Principal Geophysicist Jenna McKenzie. “We felt this approach was missing for mineral exploration. Ore deposits are complicated and we shouldn’t be approaching then from one perspective only. We need a team of specialists working together to really understand how ore deposits are formed and how to find them.”
In 2014, Ronacher McKenzie Geoscience (RMG) was launched and over the last 8 years has grown into a diverse experienced team of geologists, geophysicists, GIS specialists, data analysts and lands managers. With a focus on providing excellence to their clients and a data driven approach, RMG has helped advanced over one hundred projects including LAURION’s flagship Ishkoday project.
“Ishkoday is a great example of a project with excellent gold and base metal potential; LAURION has collected multiple datasets including geology, geophysics, geochemistry, mapping; it really needs a full team of specialists to weigh in, plan the drilling and advance the project” says Principal Geologist Elisabeth Ronacher. “It has also been refreshing to work with a woman-led company like LAURION. Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin is an inspiring leader and she is a champion of exploration in northern Ontario.”
Blue Heron Environmental has been assisting with the establishment and implementation of the wide range of environmental studies that are required to take place prior to beginning any mining project. This environmental consulting firm based in Timmins, Ontario, has satellite offices in Sudbury and home-based offices across the province. The company was founded in 2004 by Linda Byron, a geoscientist (biologist) with over 30 years’ experience in ESG in the mining industry. The company was established with the express interest of providing practical, trusted and cost-effective ESG assistance to Northern Ontario mining and mine exploration companies for all aspects of ESG Management, and has grown to 33 staff members.
LAURION retained Blue Heron to assist in the completion of the environmental baseline program, which supports Indigenous and Public consultation programs and future permitting efforts required to bring the project into Advanced Exploration and Production status. The program is led by Jenn Braun, Senior Biologist with Blue Heron. Jenn and her all-but-1 female team of 6 biologistshave been working very closely with the LAURION team in the conduct of the biological studies and guide LAURION through the provincial permitting process. Environmental studies include terrestrial and aquatic biological studies (plants, animals, fish), including species at risk; surface water monitoring; and, groundwater monitoring.
Additional support is being provided to LAURION by Blue Heron with respect to Social Governance. Linda, with the assistance of Kathy-Lynn Morrish, Blue Heron’s Indigenous Consultation Consultant, is assisting with the preparation of the formalized Indigenous and Public Consultation programs specifically related to environmental permits and supporting studies. LAURION completed a Memorandum of Understanding, and is in the process of completing an Exploration Agreement with its Aboriginal Groups in the area.
Watching the evolution of more women coming into the industry and conquering the space is so exciting. All these women are so smart and bring different ideas and new approaches to the table. Adding diversity into the mix, brings instant recognizable benefits such as team building and balance, and adds to my purpose as a CEO, which is to reimagine that mining and exploration of the future Ishkoday, beyond the bottom-line can create sustainable communities”, stated Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin.
Follow Laurion Mineral Exploration:
LAURION Mineral Exploration Inc. is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol LME and the OTCQX under the symbol LMEFF.
Do you know of an amazing Northerner who is pursuing their dreams, creating a meaningful life and truly shining in the North? Let us know!