Skip to content

Stand tall, think big, never give up

Kirkland Lake Gold exec offers life experience lessons to Sudbury audience
Mike Mayhew
Mike Mayhew addresses the audience during his presentation a the monthly meeting of the Sudbury chapter of the Canadian Institute of Mining at Dynamic Earth on his long career with mining and mining service companies. (Karen McKinley photo)

Mike Mayhew admitted much of what he says may sound cliché, but after decades in mining and mine service and supply, it's all true.

The mine superintendent of Kirkland Lake Gold, who hails from Sudbury, was the featured speaker at the monthly meeting of the Sudbury chapter of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Nov. 22, at Dynamic Earth. He shared thoughts about his journey in mining with multiple companies, the role of innovation, working on the Z40 Artisan Vehicle Systems loader, and the value of mentorship.

“Really, what I want you to take away from this is if you see an opportunity, take it, enjoy the ride and don't forget to live in the moment,” he said in his address.

Mayhew welcomed the opportunity to impart some wisdom, learned over decades in the industry, to the audience, which included a large cohort of students.

“It's also learning from them as well,” said Mayhew, who has counted Toyota Canada, Vale and Artisan amongst his employers.

One of the first lessons he said he learned is that title doesn't matter as much as the work one puts into a job. Once the work ethic is set, the title and prestige follows.

That ethic led to Mayhew being chosen for a career path training course at Toyota Canada, where he learned about quality work. He said he took that lesson with him to his other ventures when he left, and it has served him well.

Along the way, he met many people who became his mentors. When he first entered the industry, he asked one mentor what a shaft was.

“I remember it – he took the time to explain what it was,” Mayhew said. “(Mentors) will spend time with you, but you have to ask.”

Taking the initiative is critical, he said, speaking about working on the Z40 loader while employed at Artisan as an example. It was a project that he called a leap of faith.

Kirkland Lake Gold wanted to commission the manufacture of a new battery-operated loader.

Bucking the traditional process, the project went ahead without a purchase order and the company set a goal to have it ready in one year.

“That's when I realized this is real – from concept to design to execution, we had a year,” Mayhew said. “But (it’s) very rewarding when I see it running at operations.”

Mayhew predicts the majority of mines will use battery-powered equipment within the next five to 10 years in order to keep up with technology and meet demand as mines go further underground.

Six months ago, he joined Kirkland Lake Gold as head of projects, innovation and execution. After spending time in Australia observing operations, he was offered the role of interim mine superintendent.

“I asked if I had a choice and (Makuch) said, ‘You always have a choice.’ But I took a leap of faith,” Mayhew said. “I'm telling you, take that leap of faith. It's very rewarding.”

In his role as a superintendent, Mayhew believes in his team working together, no matter the task.

Employees also learn from each other. He said that it's critical to surround oneself with good people. Once everyone is working together, the rewards come.

Mayhew declined to comment about the demise of the Artisan Centre of Excellence that was slated to be built in Kirkland Lake, as he is no longer working with the company.

But he did say that Kirkland Lake Gold is very excited to be investing in the community and driving mining construction.

“We are sinking a new shaft in Kirkland Lake...which is really exciting, and we continue to be full steam ahead in Kirkland Lake," he said.