Skip to content

Mining industry electrifying for MacLean

Mining engineer saw the beginning and end of diesel, now working with electricity
Don MacLean started his career in Sudbury, before founding MacLean Engineering in 1973

Don MacLean has always felt there is a “continual sense of change and renewal” in mining.

After 60-plus years in the industry, the founder of MacLean Engineering should know.

The mining technology engineer saw the beginnings of the diesel age, putting the first diesel scoops in Sudbury's Creighton mine in 1964.

Now, over 50 years later and involved as ever, MacLean is experiencing the “electrification of the mining industry,” as he works on introducing electric mining equipment at Goldcorp's Borden mine site near Chapleau.

The shifts have “just been a rush,” he said.

“I've never worked a day in my life,” is MacLean's oft-shared trademark sentiment on the industry. 

Many of MacLean's early years were spent in Sudbury, where he started working for INCO in 1959.  He went on to found his Collingwood-based MacLean Engineering in 1973. The company designs and manufactures underground mining equipment. 

On Dec. 2, MacLean was inducted into the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Services Association (SAMSSA) Hall of Fame. 

He was introduced by his daughter Lisa, who said his entrepreneurial tendencies were noticeable from an early age.

“Donny,” as he was known to his sisters, would hoard his Halloween candy and Christmas treats each year, watching his sisters devour theirs. Over the following months, MacLean would pay his sisters in candy to do his chores, while admonishing them for failing to think ahead.

“He was a capitalist and an entrepreneur from the get-go,” she said.

Later on, that same entrepreneurial spirit was applied to his work, where he was known as Ducky.

“He was tough, driven and fair,” said Lisa. “He gave a sense of being able to achieve the impossible.”

At MacLean Engineering, MacLean has grown his business to serve 23 countries on six different continents. There are offices in Sudbury, elsewhere in Canada, in the U.S. and overseas.

MacLean said he's proud to be on the cutting edge of new mining technology. He is especially looking forward to the Borden site's electrification and the development of Glencore's Onaping Depth site near Sudbury. The Onaping Depth site is only accessible using new electric technologies.

MacLean said he was honoured to get an award from his peers.

“I appreciate it because it's great to know what you've been doing among people, friends and acquaintances, has been noticed in this world of cell phones."

SAMSSA's executive director Dick DeStefano commiserated with MacLean on turning 80 this year, mentioning that MacLean may look into retirement some day.

But if his upcoming travel plans are any indication, MacLean will no be retiring before some business trips to Germany, Peru, Mexico, and probably at least a couple more to the less exotic Chapleau.